Learning a foreign language may be an attractive venture but most people may still have not pondered over the reasons why they should consider the bilingual or multilingual path. Our fellows from Africa will tell you they speak English in addition to one or more of the native languages so this makes them natural polyglots.
This is where the discourse about learning a new or foreign language comes in. Yes, English is universal thus, communication with the world becomes easier when you speak it. Have you, however, considered the number of English speakers in the world and the potential competitors you have when you apply for a position either in your home country or abroad? Someone could also argue that speaking English makes you a good candidate for getting these jobs all over the world. Then again, have you considered the number of unemployed English speakers in your home country and in those other countries competing with you for those jobs? And oh! Have you considered how limiting knowing only your native language(s) is? Our ultimate goal is to make you see through the lens of a foreign language speaker as we convince you to tread this path by giving you five important reasons why it is important to learn a new language.
Imagine you speak one of the five most spoken languages (Chinese, French, Spanish,…) in the world in addition to English. It could also be that your mother tongue is actually one of the five. If that is the case, can you imagine the world of opportunities you expose yourself to by adding another of the five? Now if we view this practically, being a businessman or woman with two international languages or more (if you are as motivated as I am) to your credit means that you potentially have a larger market to sell to. Perhaps it helps to bring in statistics to make this claim more credible. For instance, a Ghanaian who speaks English and French has twice as… Evidently, if you are a job seeker you are at a better advantage. In one sense, an employer would want to have someone with the requisite skills plus an extra language or two. In another sense, you have a wider range of career options to choose from or to explore..
With a foreign language, you get to interact with people you normally would not have been able to interact with during your whole lifetime. When you travel, starting conversations becomes way easier since language is no longer a barrier. You eventually establish lifelong connections from different parts of the globe. And oh, we need not stress the business deals that may spring from these rich cross-cultural networks. Perhaps you are the kind who feels like sinking into the ground and shutting it when you hear a lady or gentleman speak Spanish, French, Chinese, etc. Who knows, learning a foreign language could be the window of opportunity to meet your better half. *wink*
Research makes us understand that people who learn a foreign language boost the functioning of their brain. The result of this is that they inherently develop analytical skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and longer attention span. It is also worth mentioning that people who learn a foreign language have a reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Who doesn’t want to travel the world to meet new people and to appreciate its beauty ? And what is travel without good conversations and connections? Knowing a new language is very key to bridging this gap. What this means is that when you learn French, you can have conversations with approximately 460 million people in the world who speak French out of which about 76 million are native speakers of the language. If you learn Chinese, you can interact with the 1.3 billion native speakers, 917 million of whom speak Mandarin. If you speak Spanish, you can have great conversations with about 500 million people in the world. Let’s not leave out English with 379 million native speakers and 753 million who speak it as a second language, Hindi with 341 million native speakers, and Arabic with 315 million native speakers; we can go on and on with the most spoken languages. The number of speakers of these languages is huge and chances are that when you travel you will meet people who speak these languages to hold conversations with. Besides, the odds are that anyone who speaks a particular foreign language will principally travel to regions where this is spoken, be it for work or for leisure.
This is a secret that many people do not know. When you learn a new language, you see the world through another lens because not only do you learn the syntax, semantics, phonetics, pragmatics, and lexicon of the language, you also learn the culture. As you may already be aware, culture is a major part of life and we cannot overemphasize its length and breadth, its complexities, and above all its beauty. Learning a new language opens you up to embrace, explore and appreciate a whole new world as you plunge yourself into the space of discovery and rediscovery. In the process, you gain so much knowledge pertaining to the interrelation of language and human nature and beyond, you understand things better, you appreciate people and their cultures more and you simply become a better human. What more does the world need?