by Jill Robinson
If you have struggled with ordering food or a simple request for directions in a foreign language, you realize how difficult navigating a new country and culture can be for the average traveler. Communication is so important in avoiding misunderstandings, abroad or in the States, and learning a second language is one way to combat cultural confusion.
1. When traveling, we get a more authentic experience when we have a grasp of the native language of the country we are exploring. We are able to delve deeper into the culture, enjoy conversations with locals and venture confidently off the tourist path.
2. The Alliance has many great articles relating to international exchange and education and sites this important reason for committing to that language course:
Although English has today become a “lingua franca” throughout the world, [Catherine]Porter notes that “English is not enough for exchanges in diplomatic, military, professional, or commercial contexts where matters of consequence are at stake.”
She says that when English-only speakers are “working through interpreters, they are always at a disadvantage”:In general, they are far less equipped than their bilingual or multilingual interlocutors to put themselves in others’ places or to figure out where others are ‘coming from,’ what they are ‘getting at,’ or even trying to ‘get away with.’ In many circumstances, the cultural knowledge and understanding that comes with mastery of a second language is a prerequisite for being taken seriously.”
3. In a world that is quickly becoming smaller with our ever-evolving technology and ability to communicate on a global scale, learning additional languages is becoming an asset in the job market.
4. There really isn’t a good excuse not to learn a second language. With so many language programs, blogs, online courses and meet-ups there are infinite opportunities to work on your language skills.