|The Winter Palace, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, is one |
of the great tourist sites that would open up to
you if you were to learn a foreign language.
I think that it's very challenging to be elegant or refined without a good command of languages. Having a good command of languages opens up different cultures to you which allows you to become more openminded and more tolerant of different types of people. It also helps the command of your native language because you learn to speak more clearly and you learn root words, connections between different languages, etc. You would also learn different cultures and a whole world of foreign music, classical music, film, literature, art, and food would be opened up to you. Oh, and learning a foreign language strengthens your mind, too. What more do you need to convince you to pick up a few foreign languages? :)
Now, what language to learn? I always recommend a variety, especially for those who are pursuing a classical education. Why a variety? Well, because learning one language can serve as a base to a different language, so having that variety will give you the base to many others, and it's also more practical and that variety will also open up a variety of valuable cultural material to you. If you never had the opportunity to have a classical education when you were in grade school or if you didn't have the opportunity to go to a liberal arts college, then it might be challenging to acquire the aura of a classically education person, however it is still possible. It's more challenging, but still very possible. Some classical education opportunities are more rigorous than others, but it's the more rigorous one that shows on the way its graduates hold themselves. If you want to have the refinement, knowledge, and allure of someone with a classical education, I recommend you learn one language from the following groups:
Asian and Slavic
|Japan offers rich cultural material and wonderful tourist opportunities.|
- Japanese for being the language of possibly the most elegant nation in Asia and also a good language for business and travel.
- Chinese is good for business.
- Russian opens up a wealth of rich cultural material (the nation that made ballet great (with the creation of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, the two immortal ballets, when it was dying out) tea parties, balls, opera, literature, much to learn about elegance from Old Russian Society pre-communism, etc.) and it also sounds very pretty and delicate when spoken by a lady
|Rome's café culture is a part of the Italian's Easy Life lifestyle, a|
great aspect to elegance, in my opinion.
- French will open doors to rich cultural material and will help you speak better English
- Italian - opera, will help you with English, rich cultural material, best sculptors in the world came from Italy, beautiful furniture, etc. What more? :)
- Spanish - Opens up even more rich cultural material, and with great literature and a tasty cuisine to boot! :)
|The Berliner Dom is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world and you can see why!|
- German - Why wouldn't anyone want to be exposed to German and Austrian culture? The greatest classical musicians of all time have come from Germany and Austria (Mozart, Wagner, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Bach, who was the father of all music). Germany has contributed dearly to opera. Germany also has a very wonderful (and under-appreciated) cuisine. Berlin is also currently considered to be the most cultured city - I was reading an article that told me that if you dedicated an entire week to seeing all of the collections in the art galleries and art museums, you wouldn't have seen nearly all of the Impressionists! Who knew? :)
One of the things I recommend is studying the base or ancient counterpart of your native language. Latin or Old English if you speak English, Old Church Slavonic if you speak Russian, Latin if you speak Italian, Ancient Greek if you speak Greek, etc. However, languages like Ancient Greek and Latin are both the cornerstones to the classical education (the word "classical" is a give-away) and they would benefit anyone, regardless of your native language, especially because of the influence that both cultures have had on culture and both languages will open doors to rich cultural material.