Personally I decided to learn foreign languages because they make you more successful. Did you know that studying a second language can improve your skills and grades in math and can improve entrance exam scores? Research has shown that math and verbal exam scores climb higher with each additional year of foreign language study.
My native language is English, and that was the only language I spoke until the age of eleven. I grew up in the north west of England, and acquired a standard accent from my parents, and some aspects of the local accent from my peers at school. My accent tends to change depending on who I’m talking to, and I enjoy mimicking different regional accents, which is one of the reasons why I developed such an interest in languages.
The first foreign language I encountered was Welsh: my mother has tried to learn Welsh a number of times, so there were Welsh language materials around the house and I picked up some words and phrases. At secondary school I learnt French, which was compulsory for the first three years and optional thereafter. I also learnt German, which I started in my second year. At the age of 16 I had to transfer to a different school because I was the only person who wanted to continue studying languages.
With some experience of studying languages I must say that learning a foreign language doesn’t have to be boring. You can learn a second language in exciting new ways, using technology and focusing on communication (for example studying on the Internet). Remember, you are never too young and it is never too late to begin. Depending on how long you study, you can gain different levels of fluency. You will probably not sound like a native speaker who has spoken the language at home as a child. Don’t worry; you’re not expected to. To a greater or lesser degree you will, however, make yourself understood, read magazines or books for pleasure or information, and meet and talk with new groups of people. And another thing. I am sure that nowadays chances of finding a good job may be improved if you choose a more unusual language, like Japanese or Swedish.
Should you continue language study after high school? Yes! Don’t waste your investment of time and effort. Use your second language on the job; seek out opportunities to use it in your community; in college, take more courses, study abroad at intersession or for a summer, a semester, or a year. And you might decide to start yet another language. When you study a language, you learn about how to learn a language, so learning the next one is easier.