“I don’t need to learn another language, everyone speaks English”
Et voilà – The general *arrogant* excuse used by native English speakers for not learning a new language. The idea that ‘everyone speaks English’ is obviously false. Granted, in certain environments, English is the lingua-franca and as such, some feel as though they have no desperate NEED to learn the language. However, in 2019 there can be no excuse for not doing so considering the tools we have at our fingertips.
People only do things in life because they NEED to do or they WANT to. In order to persuade native English speakers to learn a new language, a WANT needs to be created.
❝In a world that is increasingly interdependent, we can no longer afford to remain monolingual. Learning foreign languages is no longer a pastime: it is a necessity❞ – St. John’s University
So why learn another language? Is there really any point?
The Brain Game
❝To have another language is to possess a second soul❞ – Charlemagne
One of the most interesting things about learning a new language is that you develop a new personality through each language you acquire. Tim Keeley, claims that “Learning a language is to reinvent yourself. Each language becomes a new identity.” This idea is supported by Scientificamerican.com, stating that “Personalities are not fixed. Instead the language a person is speaking – and with whom – can lead individuals to take on the personality traits of the culture associated with that language or person”. In essence, “you become a chameleon”.
This is a relatively new study, and an idea that is slowly being communicated throughout society. Through this discovery, it is likely that more children at schools will become interested in discovering the underlying power of speaking in a different language. If you already possess multiple personalities in English however, maybe you avoid learning another language… for everybody’s sake.
Each language is associated with different cultural norms. Through host country exposure, you begin to identify differently with different things and react in different ways. Your behavior in certain situations, for example at a restaurant or in the workplace, will adapt accordingly. This process is automatic and you don’t realise it taking place, which is what makes learning a language so much more than translation. As you develop different personalities, you become more self aware and illustrate an ability to easily adapt to different people and cultures.
To put it less gently, if people find you annoying in your mother tongue, try learning French or Spanish and maybe, just maybe, people might actually start to like you… or not.
❝You can never understand one language until you understand at least two❞ – Geoffrey Willans
In a professional sense, learning a language differentiatesyou from the competition. Nowadays, having a degree only puts you on a level playing field with everyone else. Every business, no matter how big or small, would benefit from a bilingual. In fact, it’s not necessarily the language itself that impresses businesses. By studying a language, it shows that you are both patient and dedicated. Learning a language does not happen overnight, it is a discipline and sometimes, total immersion is necessary. It’s therefore this level of commitment that impresses recruiters the most.
Become More Interesting and Appealing To Others
“Wait, you speak English.. Why did you learn my language?”
If you speak another language, you immediately become more interesting to foreigners. Wherever you are, be it in a bar, a park or at an event, this starts conversations and establishes new relationships with people who previously, you would never have even dreamt of speaking to. You’re different.
If you’re with a group of people at a bar and you are all interchanging between 2/3 languages, people find it bizarre. Ultimately however, they’re going to be interested and slightly envious of your group. The craziest thing is that during these conversations, you don’t even realise yourself changing between tongues, it comes naturally. Some phrases are better expressed through one language than another. Contrary to popular belief, not every phrase has a direct translation. So when you hear people chopping and changing between languages in a group, they’re not doing it to intimidate you with their *far superior* knowledge, they’re just using more efficient methods of communication.
By learning another language, you not only become skilled in translation, you also expose yourself to a new culture, a new way of thinking. You will start to question why we say certain things and why other languages do not. You’ll find patterns between different languages and links between them that you had no idea existed. The idea that you can never perfect a language will humble you, allowing you to enjoy the process in the knowledge that perfection can never *really* be achieved (depressing, right?).
Because You’re The Only One Who Isn’t
❝Today, over half of the world’s population is either bilingual or multilingual❞
Everyday, more and more people are starting their new language journey. English is taught worldwide, but this has been the case for years. What is truly surprising and impressive is the number of other languages that people are now picking up in their free time as a hobby.
Apps such as Duolingo have opened the door for many to languages they would never have previously thought of learning. As per 2014, there were more Irish learners (143K) on the app than native Irish speakers (130K). By 2017, this number grew to over 3 million – and this is just on one application.
Duolingo currently boasts over 30 languages taught through English, and this number is only set to rise as the demand for languages and indeed for language apps continues to increase. If you have the time on your hands (and if you’re an absolute nerd), you can even learn High Valyrian (Game of Thrones) and Klingon (Star Wars). I’d be worried if you do, but who am I to judge. After all, language is all about learning and currently, you know nothing… Jon Snow (I’ll see myself out).
Because Why Not
There are literally no disadvantages of learning another language. The only thing I can think of is that sometimes I forget words in my native tongue. Sometimes I’ll ask English speakers to ‘transfer’ (transferer) an email instead of asking them to ‘forward it’. People will look at you a bit bizarrely but with a sense of intrigue.. at why the fuck you’re speaking like an idiot.
So instead of wishing that you could speak another language, take the first step and try one out. So many give up in school because one language didn’t interest them, just because you hated Italian doesn’t mean you’ll hate French or Mandarin. Just because you made your French teacher cry when you were 13 doesn’t mean you can’t apologise to her 10 years later in fluent French (sorry, Madame Bernard).
Alternatively, keep looking on in awe as others speak in a language you cannot comprehend and continue to remind yourself – ❝I don’t need to learn another language, everyone speaks English❞.