Learning a language in Covid times

According to a study conducted by the National Statistics and Geography Institute, close to 50% of the labor force in the Mexico City Metro Area requires more than 30 minutes to commute to work from their homes. This includes almost 20% who need over one hour, and 3.8% that spend more than two hours. Considering the additional time needed to return home, the median employee loses a little over an hour commuting. This includes a significant portion of workers that wastes anything between two and four hours daily.

The lockdown in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic has changed much of this. Unfortunately, thousands of people have lost their jobs. However, many others have simply changed to a home office scheme for an indefinite period. For people in this second category, these new schemes represent significant amounts of additional free time: there is no need to commute to work, which means all the time that was previously spent on this is now available.

According to language teaching experts, an hour per day on weekdays is ideal to learn a new language. This newly freed time is perfect to be invested in studying languages. Fortunately, like many work-related activities, this can be done remotely. While this is a crisis situation and should be treated as such, rather than simply as leisure time, there is no reason why we should not invest our additional free time in acquiring new knowledge and abilities.

Even if this situation has created uncertainty for the future, learning and developing skills in a language has benefits that go beyond professional settings. It has been shown, for example, that being bilingual has positive effects on a person’s cognitive abilities. Therefore, this is a positive investment even in cases of job uncertainty.

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