The Importance of Language Learning by @TheEmmaWhite1

Someone once said to me “Learning a new language enables you to communicate with others without seeming arrogant enough to expect them to speak English…” We live in a world that is incredibly multilingual – Some languages having over 10 different ways of speaking them. So, why is it that virtually every language in the world expects everyone else to speak it? Surely – by the logic that we all know as fact – that would suggest that we all should have a grasp of at least a handful of languages from around the world?

Unfortunately, the amount of registered students studying modern and foreign languages has dropped somewhat drastically – learning a language just doesn’t appeal to students as much as it used to and as much as it should do. Potentially, not enough is being done to encourage interest in the use of modern language. Students aren’t nearly as aware enough as they should be about how vital modern language can be in different professions. They aren’t aware of what pathways even just one additional language can open up to them.

Learning the compulsory basics at school is alright for something like a school weekend away to Paris or a week in an Adventure camp in Spain, but what can you really take from something like that? You can count, order food, say please and thank you and recite the days of the week. Impressive in its own right, yes, but not all that useful or practical in the real world. Unless you wanted to tell someone that you ordered 10 plates of Fish and Chips on a Wednesday!

Learning a new language provides you with so much potential and brands you with a skill that other people don’t have. That can be one of the most valuable things when it comes to travelling, communication and even getting a job. Being, even slightly, bilingual puts you leaps and bounds ahead of any other candidate for a job. Think of the potential you could fulfil within a company if you can lease with companies in Japan, Israel or even Italy. A bilingual employee is an investment in the future of their business.

Just think of all the different roles around the world that you could work in. Whatever language you learn, you could work in a country that speaks it. You could move there and teach your native language. You could lease with companies that speak your native language. Imagine how easy it would be to teach or understand something you have spoken your entire life. You don’t even need to think about the jobs, just think about where you could live. Being able to speak a more widely spoken language will practically make the world your oyster.

The world has a huge calling for people who can communicate between different cultures, on both business and personal levels. There will always be a need for that point of contact between everyone around the world. As mentioned above, bilingual connections between companies will need people to build and maintain the bridge; Airports often require people who are proficient in more than one language due to the large amounts of people from all over the world coming through their doors. Jobs that become available to you range from one end of the scale to the other. You could find yourself sitting in a corporate office in Russia, overlooking international accounts, or you could be working somewhere like Disneyland, running around dressed as Peter Pan.

It’s easy to see why young people aren’t inspired to study languages while in education. There are nowhere near enough opportunities open within schools, mainly because not enough people know the languages to actually teach them. More often than not, schools will have maybe three languages available for students to choose from. By the time higher education comes along, students aren’t aware of the different languages available to them and are often under the impression they don’t need to learn any more of what they have been learning for the 4 years previous. Learning languages in school tend to put a lot of people off taking their learning further or even starting to learn a new language altogether.

You’re reading this in English, I have just assumed that you are fluent enough in English to understand what I’m saying. But, believe it or not, English is not the most widely spoken language in the world. In fact, it’s only the third most spoken language. Mandarin Chinese is the most common language spoken on Earth, averaging around 848 million people declaring it as their first language. With the rising success of the Chinese economy, learning Mandarin could be very beneficial in the long run.

With Spanish being the second most spoken language, is spoken as a first language by over 400 million people, this would be another top language to learn. This language should be at the top of anyone’s list to learn. Not only would it make holidaying a lot more enjoyable, but it is also the second most spoken language in the US. A large percentage of the world currently speaks Spanish, making it one of the top languages that employers look for in candidates.

This is where English comes into play. Being the third most spoken language, with 335 million listings it as their first language, English is considered to be a very useful language to have under your belt. There are not many people out in the world, that is known on a global level, that doesn’t know English. Based on the statistics mentioned, Mandarin should be the language of choice in terms of someone known on a global level. Time for Brad and Angelina to get the translation dictionaries out we think!

Following the top three worldwide languages, the next port of call would be learning Arabic. Being the first language of over 200 million people, this language is spoken all over the world. There isn’t much of segregation between areas of the world that speak Arabic as it is spoken in virtually every country. This is a fantastic language to learn on a business level, as it largely dominates everything from energy industries to international diplomacy.

Concluding a short ‘Top 5 Languages’ list, we now put the language of love on the table. Learning French. I don’t think I, personally, know anyone who didn’t learn French at school to some level. I was once told that it was the only other language I would ever need to learn. Being one of the main business languages in the northern hemisphere, I can now see where my teachers were coming from!

Listed above are only 5 of the extensive amounts of languages that exist. Learning just one of those as a second language can open a plethora of opportunities to you, imagine what learning a third could do! Language is the gateway to everything. Language is the one thing that everyone on this planet has in common.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” –Nelson Mandela

Emma White – Twitter

I like to consider myself a social media-obsessed Blogess. The way that I work results in me always learning new things and being inspired to seek out new adventures. I’m a sucker for a good cause, especially one supporting academia. The way I see life, everything is a subject to blog about. Someone, somewhere, wants to read about what you’re doing.

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About UKEdChat Editorial 3188 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

1 Comment

  1. My view is that learning any language is worth doing, although life is simply too short to learn them all. We need to ask ourselves which language we are teaching and why. Learn Mandarin, and you’re tongue –tied in Japan. Learn Portuguese and you can’t even ask for a loaf of bread in Germany. Learn Arabic and you are reduced to miming in Russia. The obvious solution would be to make wider use of Esperanto.

    Esperanto hasn’t yet gained the recognition it deserves. However, all things considered, it has actually done amazingly well. In just 128 years, it has managed to grow from a drawing-board project with just one speaker in one country to a complete and living natural language with around 2,000,000 speakers in over 120 countries and a rich literature and cosmopolitan culture, with little or no official backing and even bouts of persecution. It hasn’t taken the world by storm – yet – but it’s slowly but surely moving in that direction, with the Internet giving it a significant boost in recent years.

    Not many people know that Esperanto has native speakers too. See:

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