By Anisha Parida and Baybars Charkas
Language—arguably the most imperative component of humankind. Regardless of who you are, language has proven to play a large role in the unification of a functional society. As society and technology have progressed, new opportunities have begun to arise, and the ability to speak multiple languages has become much more accessible. Whether you are taking a language class in school or visiting a foreign country, the benefits obtained by speaking multiple languages are abounding; language skills open the door for seemingly limitless possibilities, allowing us to communicate with much larger audiences. So why is it that approximately forty percent of the world’s population is monolingual? Learning a new language is not an effortless task, and many individuals simply cannot make room for the time commitment. For those who can, however, the results have proven to be worthwhile.
“Knowing just one [other] language—any kind of language—will put you ahead of many others,” said Spanish teacher Raul Spadaro. Spadaro speaks Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and English. A polyglot, he emphasizes the importance of language: “If you want to be a nurse, if you want to be a manager…knowing a single language is essential because you will communicate with an international community.”
“You get to meet people and to know their culture in a different way because you understand their language,” said Spanish teacher Danielle Stoner.
Ms. Kerri Frederick, French and Spanish teacher, echoes Stoner’s view: “There’s also usefulness out in the real world in terms of coming across people from different cultures and backgrounds. Sometimes I have more insight into their heritage into their culture or heritage.”
For some students, understanding the importance of language is not where their struggle lies, but rather the actual learning process of a language itself:
“I think the biggest challenge is realizing that the way that they think about things isn’t the only way to think about it and then applying that to learn a new language,” said German teacher Steven Peris. When teaching a new language, Peris emphasized the idea of creating a fun, enjoyable, and welcoming atmosphere in order to engage with students more: “It’s fun to learn, and it’s fun to be challenged. But if it’s overwhelming, then it’s not enjoyable.”
Spadaro, Peris, Frederick, and Stoner advise those who are learning a language to become immersed in the culture of those who speak it. They urge their pupils to step outside of their comfort zones and force themselves to speak the language.
Stoner emphasized how doing so will ultimately benefit you: “Live there, be there, speak it, listen to it, get embarrassed, get laughed at, you’ll grow from it.”
As Charlagmange said, “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” Communication, in any form, is vital to creating a unified global community. From greeting individuals from foreign countries to gaining a new perspective, language learning helps foster an environment of cross-cultural understanding. While devoting time to studying a new language can seem like a daunting and tedious task, it is important to remember why we are learning. We need to consider how it can benefit not just ourselves but those around us as well. Perhaps some day your ability to speak another language may just make a difference in somebody else’s life.