Is Learning a Foreign Language Important?

William Petitt, Staff Writer

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            Did you know that more than half the world’s population is bilingual and use more than one language in everyday life? Bilingualism is present across almost every nation in the world, and some countries have a population that speaks three of four languages regularly. An example of this is Singapore, which has four official languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Students in Singapore are required to learn English and take classes on their “mother tongue,” which may be any of the latter three languages above. Other countries like Singapore that have a multilingual population include Aruba, Malaysia, and South Africa, which has a whopping eleven official languages!

            The diversity of languages spoken in many countries is due to trade and European Imperialism. Starting in the fifteenth century, Europeans started going to other countries and spreading their native dialects and their culture by conquering areas and setting up trading posts. This culminated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with the Scramble for Africa. After World War II, many of these nations soon gained independence, but the dialect spread by other countries remained.

            I think that everyone should learn a foreign language sometime in their lifetime. Learning a foreign language has an array of benefits and you can learn it anytime you want. Obviously, the prime time to learn a foreign language is in high school or maybe even college. I myself take French at Page and enjoy it as well as recognize the benefits it brings besides graduation points. Firstly, learning a foreign language makes you smarter and a more well rounded person. Studies show that people who speak more than one language score higher on math, reading, and vocabulary tests than their monolingual peers. Secondly, your memory improves. Studying a foreign language exercises the brain and conditions it to better remember things, like you would remember the grammar of the foreign language you are taking. Third, learning a foreign language can improve your English. By being able to recognize parts of speech, punctuation, and grammar rules in a foreign language, it enables you to better recognize those same things in English and how they all fit together. These examples are just a few of the wide array of benefits a foreign language can bring you.

            Lots of people struggle with what language to learn. I would recommend considering two factors: How widely used is this language, and how interested am I in it? In my opinion, there are fewer advantages in learning a language that is spoken widely in only one small part of the world. To me, the best languages to learn would be the romance languages like Spanish or French. Both of these languages are spoken on more than one continent and have a huge amount of speakers. Mandarin Chinese and even Arabic would also fall in this category, with hundreds of millions of speakers each. However, these last couple languages are not as widely taught in a classroom.

            In conclusion, I think that learning a foreign language makes you smarter, gives you a better memory, and improves your English. Also, it makes you a more well rounded person. When deciding a language to learn, choose something that applies to you as well as peaks your interest. Who knows, you may even travel a country that speaks the language you learned one day!




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