The autumn 21-day challenge will keep you learning (great for your wellbeing), connecting (also one of NEF’s five ways to wellbeing) and having fun (not one of the top five but always worth it!).
You might have recently returned from a summer holiday and found yourself flexing your language skills. Can you speak another language? Do you know just enough to get by? Or do you speak louder, wave your arms around and hope for the best?
Learning some new words and phrases will have rewired your brain. So this challenge is a chance to continue and rewire your brain 21 times!
There are three versions of the challenge to choose from:
Learn to say a word or phrase in a different language every day. There are roughly 6,500 languages spoken in the world. Imagine being able to say ‘hello’ even in 21 of them!
If you could learn just one word or phrase, what would be most useful? Or most fun? RAW advisor Dr Jacqui Wilmshurst, who is currently travelling around Europe in a camper van, says that her most useful phrase in another language is: “I don’t speak much (French/Spanish/Polish/Lithuanian) but I am learning.”
Learn to say 21 words or phrases in the language of your choice. If you pick common words and phrases you have more chance of using them. If you know someone who speaks the language you’ve picked, make sure you use your newly learned phrases as often as possible!
You might want to buddy up with someone you know who is a native speaker of another language and teach each other phrases and words, then spend some time practising together.
If you work for an organisation that has clients or contacts in other countries then this is a great version of the challenge to go for!
If you are keen on language learning then this blog has 22 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language. It’s a great resource. (There is swearing on this page so bear that in mind if you find that offensive!)
There are many words we don’t have a direct translation for in English. Hearing them in another language can start a conversation about the concept behind the word, and aid cultural understanding.
You can read this blog post which has some examples of these kinds of words. There are also plenty in this newspaper article:
For Version 3 you can either learn words that we don’t have in English, and think about the concepts behind them. Or you can learn a new word in English every day. There are loads of resources to help with this – for example, the Leeds Library (@theleedslibrary) and the OED (@OED) post unusual words on Twitter every day, and Susie Dent (@susie_dent) also posts interesting words and word origins.
All of this learning shows that you can change how flexible you are and that the future means more than the past. You don’t have to always be the way you are now.