AS thoughts perhaps turn to holidays and maybe to foreign destinations, it would be interesting to know how many people prepare for a holiday overseas by becoming more familiar with some key phrases in the language spoken in their holiday destination.

In years gone by, one of the first things I would always pack before going away would be a dictionary and phrase book — now of course there is a whole host of apps and on-line resources available to help the keen traveller to communicate — and trying out some new words was one of the holiday activities to which I most looked forward.

Aside from putting language learning into action on holiday, for what reasons is it valuable to learn a foreign language?

Multilingual Manchester recently revealed that, with about 200 languages spoken in our region, Manchester is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in western Europe.

According to the Association for Language Learning, English is not the most commonly spoken language in the world, as some people might think; the most commonly spoken languages are in fact Spanish and Mandarin.

From the business perspective, an employee who can speak another language is well placed to enhance the company for which they work and in turn makes themselves more valuable to their employer.

It is widely accepted that, through learning a foreign language you come to understand your own language more profoundly and learn to use it with more skill.

Knowledge of another language gives us access to a whole new culture and history — to music, film, literature, comedy, politics — as well as a deeper understanding, on a human level, as to how other people think and live.

In a country in which we are currently producing fewer linguists, a student with good language qualifications may find they have an advantage over others.

The basis of human relationships is good communication, and good communication is not possible without a commonly understood language. As Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

It is a myth that not all of us are able to learn a second language — we all learned to speak our own and the key principles are the same.

So, whether you are staying at home this summer or venturing further afield, perhaps now is the time to learn a few words of another language.

Bonnes vacances!