Although the world we live in has relatively few continents, however, they contain a myriad diversity of populations speaking in myriads of languages. Most countries today, because of increasing urbanization, international commerce, tourism, business travel, and modern technology have begun to embrace the concept of a society that is multicultural. And evidently, a globalized multicultural society would have to also be a society that is multilingual.
Even though the US regards itself as the world’s melting pot, it has very low levels of proficiency in learning a second language. Most students usually study just English, or learn a second language at a stage when gaining true proficiency becomes too late.
The importance and advantages of learning a second language is continuing to increase day by day. For example, the inflow of immigrants of Hispanic origins into the US has resulted in creating a great need for Spanish translators and interpreters. Likewise in a number of other languages.
However, the importance of learning a second language is not merely limited to the ability of communicating with people who speak different languages. According to studies, it has been shown that learning a second language results in students achieving greater divergent thinking, creativity, and cognitive development compared to monolingual children. A number of studies have also shown that when students learn a second language they have a tendency of outscoring those who a re proficient in only a single language on tests of nonverbal and verbal intelligence.
Still other studies have shown that the academic skills of students learning a second language are enhanced by in improving their abilities in mathematics, writing, and reading.
Plus, when people learn a second language, they become a valuable asset to the community in which the work and live. Apart from the requirement of translators and interpreters, there are an increasing number of jobs where people are required to interact with people that speak other languages. Learning a second language also enables a person to adapt to a variety of cultural backgrounds. Also, the capacity of communicating in another language can be a contributory factor to the overall achievement of professional and personal career goals.
Language is one of the main components of the civilization and culture of the people who speak it. Hence, learning a second language can be a comparatively easy and wonderful way of absorbing another culture.
When one absorbs another culture by learning a second language, apart from appreciating other people and their cultures, it also enables us to comprehend what role language plays in shaping our thought patterns. Often, other languages have better methods of expressing ideas, concepts, or thoughts compared to English, which usually become a part of English, thus enabling English language speakers communicate better.
Learning a second language, therefore, can not only challenge your mind, but also enrich your soul, so to speak. Apart from being able to converse with different people in their own language, it can also teach you understanding, tolerance, and patience.
As immigration, communication, business and transportation bring people closer and closer in touch with each other, the world is becoming a smaller and smaller place. By learning a second language, and perhaps even more, we can understand each other better and deal with each other with more empathy and consideration.