Today, although most of the world is multilingual, many Americans are not fluent in a second language. This is due to the lack of emphasis on foreign language by the United States education system as only ten states require foreign language courses as a high school graduation requirement (Engle). Some argue that it is unnecessary for native English speakers to learn another language because English is the “language of the world/business.” While it is true that English is the most prevalent language, learning a second language is highly beneficial as it leads to heightened cultural understanding, an attribute much needed in today’s divided world, and offers a host of cognitive advantages.  

Language helps express our feelings, desires, and questions to the world around us. Words, gestures, and tone are utilized in order to portray emotion and communicate with others. The ability to communicate through complex processes such as writing and spoken language is what “allows us to form bonds with each other and what separates man from animal” (De Valeos). Learning a second language provides access to different cultures and a unique insight into the way of the world. It encourages empathy, openness, and prompts a curiosity of other countries’ histories and cultures. By opening up an avenue to understanding others, people can become more tolerant and patient. 

Travel requires the desire and willingness to adapt to new cultures. In some occupations, it is essential to be able to communicate with many different peoples as the global business community has become more and more integrated. Even though many countries study English in addition to their native language, it is “arrogant to assume that everybody speaks his or her native tongue” (De Valeos) . Likewise, it is extremely rude when Americans ridicule immigrants for their broken English. By learning a second language, Americans can become more responsible global citizens and empathetic to those who have trouble articulating their thoughts. (Burton). 

The communication skills formed as a child will provide a strong foundation for success later on in life. They also shape a person’s cognitive ability by improving memory and judgement by encouraging rational and nuanced thinking (Engle). If Americans want to be active and intelligent participants in a multilingual world, foreign language is critical. Thus, it is necessary that the United States create an accessible, widespread, and standardized foreign language curriculum in order to prepare the future generations and the nation for “security and prosperity” (De Valeos). 

Works Cites

Burton, Neel. “Beyond Words: The Benefits of Being Bilingual.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 28 July 2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201807/beyond-words-the-benefits-being-bilingual

De Valeos, Leonardo. “Importance of Language – Why Learning a Second Language Is Important.” Trinity Washington University, 13 July 2020, https://discover.trinitydc.edu/continuing-education/2014/02/26/importance-of-language-why-learning-a-second-language-is-important/

Engle, Jeremy. “How Important Is Knowing a Foreign Language?” The New York Times, 29 Mar. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/learning/how-important-is-knowing-a-foreign-language.html

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2 Comments
  1. Ashley 1 week ago

    Dear Liann :
    I am surprised by your post, “The Importance of a Second Language in a Multilingual World,” because it is shocking to know how important knowing a second language is in order to communicate with others.
    One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “learning a second language is highly beneficial as it leads to heightened cultural understanding, an attribute much needed in today’s divided world, and offers a host of cognitive advantages”. I think this is important because we must realize that learning different languages can create connections between people and other cultures.
    Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because the information that you give seems very important.
    Ashley

  2. Tasneem 1 week ago

    I am shocked about your post because not many people talk about this topic and i think its a very important topic.
    One sentence that struck out to me was ,” Travel requires the desire and willingness to adapt to new cultures. In some occupations, it is essential to be able to communicate with many different peoples as the global business community has become more and more integrated.’’ I felt that this a very important besides just seeing a country, learning about its culture is what makes such a difference between visiting it and actually getting to know it.
    Another sentence that stood out to me was “ Today, although most of the world is multilingual, many Americans are not fluent in a second language.”.I agree because when they travel or meet other people that don’t speak English or understand the American culture they might get mad and feel like they should learn English and the same goes for Americans.
    Thank you for your writing ,i hope to read more!
    BY:Taz #harvest

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