When I was 13 years old our dad took my brother and I on a camping trip in Baja, Mexico. The people we met usually didn't speak English and that frustrated us. My inability to communicate with the locals inspired me to learn Spanish. I studied through high school and received excellent grades yet I could not speak fluently nor understand much that was spoken to me. I then searched for techniques to immerse myself in the Spanish language and surprisingly learned very fast and became fluent in a short time. I then applied the same techniques to quickly learn Brazilian Portuguese as I was planning a trip to there as well. I am now learning Russian and Nahuatl. I love the Russian language and want to learn by conversing with people throughout the Russian-speaking lands of Asia, thus increasing my understanding of the language, the people, and the diverse cultures.
The languages I have learned have been the foundation of good friendships around the world and adventures into places few Americans wander. I use Spanish every day while currently living in Mexico and traveling through the jungles of Mesoamerica doing short photographic expeditions. Without fluency in Spanish I would never be able to get around.
Language skills gave me an edge in the employment world as well. With globalization and companies expanding world wide and creating partners and outsourcing across the globe, speaking foreign languages gives every businessman or job seeker an advantage over the competition.
I will continue to learn languages throughout my life. Studies even show that those who study languages all their life have sharper minds and are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Languages can be challenging to learn but it really doesn't have to take very long. Anyone can do it by putting into practice some simple techniques. I often share these techniques with students I tutor especially those learning English here in Mexico.