by Kiran Munir, Staff Writer
Living in America, we often conclude that proficiency in the English language is sufficient for successful communication. Wrong! According to the CIA World Record Book, only 5.6% of the global population speaks English as their primary language. Therefore, even though English has become the official “global lingua franca” over the past several decades, this should not prevent anyone from studying a foreign language. Hence, the 4 years of a foreign language taken by most students in high school or college is not actually a bad idea because it opens up many doors in the future. At the time, memorizing lists of vocabulary words, understanding the difference in past perfect and past progressive, and getting up in front of class to do skits may be very painful, but it actually exercises the brain to get into the habit of memorizing vast amounts of information.
Remaining monolingual will only stunt your educational development and restrict your communication abilities with the world. Life is not always predictable; sometimes it leads us down unexpected paths. Maybe a job promotion may require you to relocate to another part of the world, in which case having the asset of knowing another language is very beneficial. Even for occasional business meetings, knowing the native’s language can be helpful because then an interpreter will not be needed since using an interpreter often slows down the proceedings. As for socializing after the event, the locals will definitely prefer to talk in their native language rather than English, and you will most likely feel left out.
Furthermore, learning another language will open up new opportunities and provide you with new comprehensions skills. Psychological experiments have proven communication in another language manipulates your unconscious thinking, decisions, and actions. Understanding the principles behind how people of various ethnicities think and perceive issues in the world aids in broadening your horizons. Understanding how others in the world think will enable you to not only respect them without being ethnocentric but also be an informed citizen of current affairs.
Additionally, learning another language could be beneficial when going on a vacation in a dominant non-English speaking country. Yes, speaking English slowly and loudly will probably be sufficient enough to communicate around the tourist hotspots; however, actually knowing a little bit more of the extensive native language will enable you to explore beyond “tourist ready-made” destinations and it will allow you to barter with the locales to get more for your money.
Lastly, learning another language is very difficult but it can be posed as a beneficial challenge to one’s self. Language is learned early in life and this makes the process easier. However, it is never too late to supplement one’s knowledge by learning a new language.