Many students from different parts of the world are facing a serious enforcement. Starting from the childhood, they re required to learn additional languages in schools. Only if they can, they will make a progress, because otherwise, many doors opening to tremendous opportunities are closed for them. Some universities don’t even accept mo
olingual students. If a student has a fair degree of English, only then, he or she gets the chance to apply to a university. To learn new languages is gaining popularity day-by-day. Especially interests on English have risen dramatically.
Learning a language is some sort of a task nowadays. Most of the students study a language mainly for the sake of passing exams so that they will go to a good university or have a decent job, or for the sake of pleasing their parents. It is extremely rare that you can see someone studying a language only or mainly for the sake of learning a particular language’s culture and meanings of the words, rather than translations.
One of these exceptions is Tim Doner, a 17-year-old hyper polyglot who can speak 23 languages almost fluently. He started learning other languages since his primary school as a subject. He found out that he had interest for languages, which lead him to study other languages. He has friends all over the world, he chats with them to perfect his pronunciations.
He sees learning languages as an “isolating hobby that suddenly put him in contact with people all around the world”. For him, language learning is not a task that he is obliged to do, instead this has become a part of his life – his lifestyle. What I am trying to say is that we should also learn to look at languages in such perspectives that will evoke the idea that what makes the language important is the uniqueness of its culture, and what makes a culture unique is its particular mindset. This proves that there is a real connection between language and culture and that there is so much that a language can tell you about one culture’s mindset.
Some people are so desperately focused on learning new languages as an obligation that they unintentionally ignore what they are losing. There is the fact that a language dies every two-week. “Us, studying new languages will not stop language death, but it will open up our minds to the idea that language in its sense in essence, represents a cultural worldview”, says Doner, which, most of us will agree because we know that each population’s understanding of the world and their culture reflects to their language. Basically, each language is a mystery full of treasures. Why not investigate, then?
Motivation is an important head start when it comes to learning. Just try having one before you start studying because your motivation will always make you keep going. Let us take Tim Doner’s motivationas an example which is Nelson Mandela’s wise quote: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Being able to reach other people’s hearts is a special talent in today’s conditions. Why not try learning languages for the fun of it, or for the enthusiastic feeling that learning gives? Humans are social creatures; we live in a social world. Communicating with other people, and learning their cultures will make us responsible citizens. And to get to know each other better, we need to learn each other’s languages.
As a result of globalization, people do study languages to communicate with other people, to make business, or for academic purposes. When we look around, it is highly possible to see hundreds of people focusing dreadfully on learning languages. We do need to know or at least speak one or two additional languages to our own, but at the same time, we should be very careful saving our mother language. If a society loses its language, it loses all of its values; because if a language dies, culture and literature dies along with it. Why let this happen, while the only thing you have to do is to stick to it.
Learning additional languages has whimsical good effects on people and society. “There is a lot that you can gain by learning a language.” Doner says. Studying another language gives you the chance to get to know other cultures, having better communication skills, and many other advantages that, scholars all around the world are frequently arguing about. A new language you learn creates a new world for you; you will not feel out of it if a foreigner would speak a language that you can speak too. You will have better opportunities as a multilingual, rather than monolinguals will.
If we look at benefits of learning a foreign languages in the aspect of morals: “All I know is that I know nothing”, says Greek philosopher Socrates. The more a person knows, will know that he or she knows nothing at all, which reduces the pride of the person while increasing his or her knowledge. Thus, learning new languages teaches you open-mindedness too.
Whilst studying a language there are things that we should consider like, the usage of phrases and the culture’s relevance to the language. We definitely need to know the difference between being able to speak a language and being able to understand the meanings of what you are speaking; because as Tim Doner strongly emphasizes: “You can translate words easily, but you cannot quite translate meaning”.
Learning a language should not be a concrete task that you uninterestedly work on, but a life experience that is a part of you. Be curious about other culture’s mindsets and about learning them. Because the more languages you know, the more you are. Incrementally, by the help of the knowledge you have gained, you will have different viewpoints on things. Then, you will realize how good it indeed is.
You can watch Tim Doner’s TED Talk here.