It's been reported that language learning spiked during lockdowns. In my last post, I wrote about the popular app Duolingo reporting record-breaking numbers: they had a 300% jump in new users in March 2020!
However, in the last 12 months almost no-one has been able to travel, and the international job market has felt more and more unstable. This begs the question: why bother learning a new language?
When the second lockdown started back in November, I set out to learn Japanese. I haven't been to Japan (yet!), but I've always been fascinated by its culture and history. I was fully aware that I would not be able to travel to Japan for a very long time, yet I wanted to embark on the journey of language learning.
So what's behind this remarkable trend?
It seems that as the restrictions on travel tightened, the desire to learn a new language grew. People's holidays were cancelled, but the need to experience other cultures remained.
Some even found that the lack of old certainties in the world stirred the motivation to tackle long-neglected goals, like learning a new language.
Other people have observed that learning a new language has kept them feeling connected to the world during the lockdown, and that they looked to language learning for belonging and escapism at the same time.
In language learning, more and more of us have found the challenge we needed to keep our brains fit - and our mental health in shape.
Not only is learning a new language a great way to keep your grey cells working: it can also have a positive impact on your wellbeing, keeping you motivated and purposeful.
What am I doing?
For many, the lockdown has turned into a real existential crisis.
With the disruption to daily life for all of us, and extended periods of time at home, there has been more time to think about what we want out of life. Our students often comment that learning a new language has helped them work through this period.
Connection and fulfilment - and excitement for the future
What is clear is that in a world that has felt 'closed for business', we have turned to this great field as a way to feel connected and fulfilled.
I may not be travelling to Japan any time soon, but every time I open up my pink workbook, I get a little excited about the journey ahead of me.
Irene Stoppoloni is a linguist and Italian tutor from Rome.
Feeling inspired? Get in touch today and start your journey!