The Advantages Of Learning Many Languages

It has been said that many of the jobs that people will be doing in the future are yet to be created. This suggests that the knowledge that people are learning in schools today may become obsolete quickly. Therefore, it becomes vital to equip our students with varied skills, which includes the study of different languages.

In many schools today, people learn one, two or at the most three languages. This could be English, which is widely recognized as the international language or could be the native language such as Mandarin or German, depending on where an individual was born and bred.

However, in an evolving, complex world characterized by technological innovation and breakthroughs in various fields, one's marketability and survivability in the future may depend more on one's versatility. The ability to speak several languages may prove to be an asset to someone who may have opportunities to travel widely in this highly globalized world and work as well as interact with different cultures.

One of the significant benefits of learning many languages would be the ability to become a more culturally sensitive individual. Translation services like 'Google Translate’ may help us translate vernacular languages to better comprehend them but the nuances of the language such as emotions and specific cultural references can never be fully appreciated unless one immerses in the study of such languages.

The Korean language, for instance, has several words which reflect deep emotions, similar to other languages. A distinctive feature is the presence of 'honorific' language, where there are special words reserved for superior or elderly people. Such variations may never be appreciated by someone who understands such facts only at the intellectual level. Moreover, the knowledge of such nuances may allow one to have an edge over others as one could have opportunities to reside in the country or countries of the dominant language, acquiring experiences that may have been otherwise impossible if one did not have knowledge of that specific language. An individual who knows both French and Korean for instance, could benefit from exposure to both cultures, enhancing his marketability for any employer.

Moreover, learning several languages benefits us cognitively and boosts our mental health in various ways too. Physiological studies, for instance, have discovered that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. It makes us more intellectually able and it even helps stave off Alzheimer's and dementia. According to a study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University, multilingual people, especially children, are skillful at multitasking. This means that there are indirect benefits also that we can get from learning many languages.

Apart from benefits accruing to an individual, a multilinguist can also enhance the lives of different people in the world. In a world mired in poverty, discrimination and social strife, many struggle to even make ends meet and often our efforts to reach out to the destitute are hampered by our inability to converse with them in their own languages, which further prevents us from being cognizant of their problems from a first-hand perspective. If that barrier can be circumvented, it would enhance our ability to meet the needs of the native population in more beneficial ways rather than engaging in meaningful but still not very beneficial one-off community service projects such as painting the wall of a village school, which may not be sustainable for the Community we are seeking to help. Knowing the local language builds trust with the people, which would foster better relations and lead to more beneficial outcomes.

In a nutshell, besides the thrill that learning different languages accords to an individual, being multilingual allows one to thrive in different environments and acquire varied experiences. The individual benefits are also aplenty, especially the long-term psychological and health benefits. Moreover, the value a multilinguist can add to other communities worldwide is also noteworthy. However, it should be noted that although these benefits are desirable, it is also a fact that it is an insurmountable challenge to learn a new language. Nevertheless, we can still attempt to do it, even if it means we are taking baby steps.

In the modern high-tech world, there are a lot of ways to learn new languages. There are applications such as Duolingo and Babbel which are very popular. The number of people who learn languages as a hobby is increasing since such applications are freely available. It is quite possible that in the future, almost all human beings will know at least two languages.

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