National Languages Strengthen Economies and Education Systems

HOW NATIONAL LANGUAGE CREATES NATION UNITY

A common language promotes national unity. People from different ethnic groups cannot unite if they are not able to understand one another; therefore, it is necessary for a country to have a national language. When language and culture are upheld in a country, communities are upheld in the nation-state and can be proud and loyal members of their country, and economy can be promoted. Also, in many countries, learning a national language is nurtured at the primary levels of education. Some students begin acquiring the language at a very young age. In countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, and Indonesia, citizens are able to converse in their national language with ease. This is when national language becomes native language, which greatly helps in fostering national unity. In this essay, I argue that national language plays important role in building the identity of a nation, then promotes economics and education in order to foster nation unity.

First of all, language represents a person’s identity.

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To some extent, what people said represents who they are. Similarly, a national language represents the identity of a nation. As John E. Joseph (2004) argues, “one of the first and highest obstacles that has to be overcome in establishing a national identity is the non-existence of a national language.” Besides the national boundary the national flag, the currency of the name, a country is made respectable and unique through its national language. A national language is an indicator of the national identity of a country (Smith, 2010). In order for a person to understand the values of a country, one must be able to communicate with national language. Having a fluency in national language ensures that a person is able to understand the nuances of other people. It also means that a person has the respect for that language as well as the country itself. So, national unity can be created based on the identity through national language. For instance, after Hong Kong became Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese document also became “controlling version.” “Hong Kong people do not see themselves as ‘a people’, but as part of the Chinese people, and, in certain contexts as part of the southern Chinese people.” (John, 2004) It is the shift from English to Chinese as official language that helps to construct people’s sense of belongings to mother country.

National language boosts the economic growth of a country. Where there is no language, there is no social or economic development. The main purpose of language is communication, and effective communication facilitates development (Mkwinda-Nyasulu, 2013). Enhancing good communication ensures that all the goals and objectives of a country are achieved. A common language links different countries and continents together through international trade.

For example, countries with several national languages have a better performance on economy. The GDP amount of Nigeria, with four national languages, ranks second within African countries. Also, Switzerland attributes 10% of its gross domestic product to the country’s multilingual heritage. The country comprises if four national languages namely Italian, French, German and the ancient Latin. In comparison to Britain that has a Gross Domestic Product of 3.5% because of poor language skills (Smith, 2010). The above statistics indicate that national language is very important to the economic development of a country. Beyond economic growth, national languages also assist the workforce of a country in more subtle, long-term ways. Local communities that engage in trading activities are brought together by a common language. Local trade between communities enhances the exchange of different cultures. This kind of trade is also important to the national development of a country through the expansion of infrastructure and through tax revenue (Ladouceur & Lebeau, 2012). The development of economy will improve society cohesion, then nation unity. Thus, national language can support nation unity through assisting growth of economy.

As for education, a national language is very important in the curricular activities of schools. Teaching in schools using a common language ensures that students are able to understand all of the concepts. A national language acts as a motivating factor and enables the younger generations to pursue their career prospects (López, 2014). Having a common language enhances student achievement in academia and increases understanding through repetition and consistency. The main objective of learning institutions is incorporating reading instruction in class and improving collaborative curricular opportunities among different disciplines. Having a national language improves learning through increasing academic rigor across the school’s curriculum, increasing the amount and quality of time spent by teachers and students in co curricular areas, providing disaggregated data for tutors, and improving the achievement and understanding of students through repetition and consistency (López, 2014). Therefore, education can help promote unity through helping students understand value, culture, and identity of a nation better.

National language education is also supported by immigrant community because the economy advantages. Language education is a crucial aspect of the process of integrating immigrant communities into society. A national language assists these immigrants to get jobs. For example, immigrants in the United States who lack English language skills and United States credentials might remain jobless for a long time. The goal of the U.S. English Foundation, one of the largest groups that call for English Only Movement, is to improve English skills for immigrants to get a better job (Donna, 2003). A national language is also very important to industrial marketing efforts, as it helps these communities to link themselves to mass institutions and their new ethnic neighborhoods. Immigrants who have the ability to master the national language have a cultural capital that tends to correlate with the aims of industry to cultivate new ethnic markets. Additionally, learning the national language exposes an immigrant to a variety of opportunities within the country. For example, an individual can be hired in marketing and distribution companies and learning institutions, among others. As a result, national language education for immigrant communities will benefit stability and cohesion of society. 

Based on previous discussion of economy and education, national language can enable a country to attain a cohesive society. It is very important for a country to construct an integrated citizenry whereby citizens have a sense of belonging across different groups and different regions. National integration and cohesion are the outcome of the process of instilling in and assisting citizens to have a sense of belonging to a larger community by engaging them in a common enterprise, and a sense of facing similar challenges and opportunities. National cohesion and integration are achieved through a common language that these members can understand and by which they can communicate together. Equity, unity, freedom, democracy, peace, social justice, and the rule of law can all be reflected or represented by national language through documents or other forms. It is very difficult for citizens of a country to remain peaceful and feel secure without embracing the national language. A national language ensures that there is the establishment of exchange programs across diverse groups, promotes inter-diversity tours, and promotes openness and dialogue between communities by discussing related problems and causes. The unifying factor and the medium of attaining these principles, therefore, is the national language.

Additionally, national language promotes national building. In this case, national building means fighting against racisms and ethnic division and consciousness. It is a way of promoting non-racialism, anti-racism and anti-racialism, and anti-tribalism to achieve equity and maintain social stability. South Africa believes that when people claim to be a part of a certain county, they should be able to speak the same language. According to P. Eric Louw (1992), people in South Africa are still separated through black languages and white languages although apartheid is banned. So, a common national language is necessary as a tool to enhance the equity and communication between different races. Nowadays, the majority of nations are multilingual; that is, the people of these nations have different ethnic languages. Therefore, it is very important to seek a democratic solution that can foster national unity. For instance, citizens could volunteer to mentor English language learners and also assist them with citizenship test preparation. As for immigrant communities, a person could volunteer at a local refugee resettlement agency and assist all the newly arrived refugees in learning the national language, locating a job, and adjusting to their new life. National language affects politics because, according to Einar Haugen (1966), a national language is “the instrument of an authority” (p. 933). Politicians conduct their political campaigns across different communities nation-wide through the use of the national language. Posters and national politics forums utilize the national language so that citizens are able to understand the message and contribute their views without barriers. However, the national language is usually controversial because it effects a split in the politics of a country, especially in different communities, for example, there is a primary split in Canadian politics between the French-speaking and English-speaking communities. Thus, a national language is necessary for political purposes, to promote social cohesion and a sense of national pride at large, especially in those countries that are culturally diverse.

For example, in the United States, there is an English Only Movement (EOM) that seeks to pass a law declaring that English is the country’s sole official language. In contrast, just as the majority language might be promoted to incorporate minorities and foster nationalism, minority languages might also be promoted to give a voice of sub-nationalism and to foster recognition. Many countries are made of a merging of different ethnicities with different cultural values, beliefs, norms, and traditions. In China, minority autonomous regions are allowed to use their own languages as official languages instead of the national language of Mandarin. In conclusion, a national language is of vital importance to the development of national unity. Every country has its own national language that brings citizens together. Language is a maker of ethnic identity in a country, where a nation may be comprised of many different cultures, and the only unifying factor is the national language. Economy and education, as a drive of the development of nation, is also affected by national language. So, as a source of cohesion and integration, national language brings people of different communities who have different cultural practices, beliefs, norms, and religions together as one through learning or working together. Further, national cohesion and integration is achieved through a common language that these members can understand and by which they can communicate together, nurturing equity, unity, freedom, democracy, peace, social justice, and the rule of law. Ultimately, this unity is very important to the development of a country and is the best way to eliminate inequality, social injustice, and discrimination. However, I admit that there are still some concerns about the problems brought by single national language. Some people worry about that single national language might contribute to separation of a nation, especially in immigrant countries. In that case, language policy planning should also consider special situation of a nation.

References

  1. Haugen, E. (1966). Dialect, Language, Nation. American anthropologist, 68(4), 922-935.
  2. International Monetary Fund. (2018). April 2018 WEO Database – Country Data Documentation [Data File). Retrieved from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2018/01/weodata/co.pdf
  3. Joseph, J. (2004). Language and identity: National, ethnic, religious. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  4. Ladouceur, L., & Lebeau, R. (2012). Dramatic licence: Translating theatre from one official language to the other in Canada. University of Alberta.
  5. López C, C. (2014). Language is the Soul of the Nation: Language, Education, Identity, and National Unity in Malaysia. Journal of Language, Identity & Education, 13(3), 217-223.
  6. Louw, P. E. (1992). Language and National Unity in a Post-Apartheid South Africa. Critical Arts, 6(1), 52-60.
  7. Mkwinda-Nyasulu, B. (2013). Role of language in socio-economic development: the semiotics are right. Journal of Humanities, 23(1), 213-230.
  8. Napoli, D. (2003). Language matters : A guide to everyday questions about language. New York: Oxford University Press.
  9. Ndimele, O. M. (Ed.). (2016). Convergence: English and Nigerian Languages: A Festschrift for Munzali A. Jibril (No. 5). M & J Grand Orbit Communications.
  10. Smith, A. D. (2010). Nationalism: Theory, ideology, history. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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National Languages Strengthen Economies and Education Systems. (2022, Mar 26). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/national-languages-strengthen-economies-and-education-systems-essay

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