Why Is It Important To Learn Another Language

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 Why is it so important tolearn a foreign language?

We live in the era of the English language. Today, the Anglosphere (the English-speaking world) is at a great advantage. English has become the world's lingua franca--ergo, the world's everything language. It is spoken in the realms of commerce, international diplomacy, international and domestic travel, the sciences, and tourism. This makes it easy for Anglophones (English speakers) to get by in the world today, which leads them to believe that learning a foreign language is unnecessary. After all, the English language is spoken everywhere already, and Anglophones have tools at their disposal to understand foreign languages. For example, online translators like Google Translate can translate from English to one of over 100 languages and vice versa, from Spanish to Basque, from Arabic to Maori, and from Yoruba to Khmer. Despite these points, learning a foreign language gives one a profound understanding of the culture from which it originated, it helps you understand one's cultural roots, and it optimizes communication across language barriers. 

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First of all, learning a foreign language can help people understand the culture from which it originated. Learning a foreign language helps people understand foreign literature and media in a better context. This is because literal translations of text from a foreign language, like that which is generated from an online translator, can seem rigid and nonsensical at times, which may lose the intent of the creator of such media. Literal translations are challenged further by some foreign words and phrases that do not translate comfortably into English and require cultural background knowledge. For example, there are German phrases like Waldeinsamkeit (the feeling one has from being alone in the woods) and Backpfeifengesicht (a face in desperate need of a slap), Danish phrases like Hygge (the sense of coziness and relaxation one has with family and/or friends), and Yiddish phrases like Schlimazl (an inept and severely unlucky person), among others.

 Another reason why one could learn a language is to connect with one's cultural roots. A common practice is learning a 'heritage language,' a language commonly spoken among one's family and close friends, overshadowed by a more primary language used in day-to-day life. Say that your family is from Indonesia, specifically from Denpasar, and therefore speak Balinese. During your upbringing, you leave Denpasar with your family and move to Australia, where English is the predominant language. Therefore, you and your family adopt English in your daily usage, and Balinese eventually fades, resulting in its limited use in family events or cultural exchanges. Therefore, even though not in common personal usage, learning your heritage language can also deepen the bond between you, your family, and your culture. 

Finally, learning a foreign language facilitates communication across language barriers. Bilingualis becomes important when you frequently travel abroad, be it for education, business, or leisure. despite the convenience of online translators like Google Translate, these kinds of translations tend to hold inaccuracies. Therefore, to reduce miscommunication, companies and universities elect to hire and accept bilingual applicants to save spending money on resources like interpreters to accurately facilitate communication across the language divide. This is also why multilingual people are more successful in the academic, financial, and political world. For example, bilingual (English and French) politicians like Justin Trudeau dominate Canada's political scene, or in the business world, where CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg (English and Chinese) and Sergey Brin (English and Russian), are some of the most successful. Therefore, you must absolutely consider learning a second language (or more) if you wish to be successful in these fields.

 As for myself learning a second language, I already am bilingual. At home, I speak Bisaya (sometimes called Cebuano), a Filipino language spoken in the central and southern regions of the Philippines. However, in America, Bisaya speakers are a very small minority, so most of my time speaking Bisaya has been at home with my family. In addition to this, I have been trying to learn a more prominent non-English language, like Spanish, Tagalog, or Mandarin Chinese. Spanish, as a former lingua franca in the Philippines, helped influence Filipino languages like Bisaya, which helped me understand the language better. I can use this language to understand the Latin American culture prominent in states like Florida or Texas. I also plan to use Mandarin Chinese to communicate with the Sinophone half of my family, or even when I plan to do business in the Chinese speaking world, like Taiwan, Hong Kong, or even Singapore. Tagalog (which I have forgotten since leaving the Philippines) can help me communicate with the wider Filipino community who live here in Ocala and will be useful if I plan to pursue a career in the Philippines, especially in politics. 

All in all, language not merely a means of communication amongst fellow human beings, but a way to understand their culture, like their upbringing, and social norms. With the potency of multilingualism in mind, imagine the ways you communicate with more human beings if you could speak more than one language.

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