Wednesday, 22 July 2015

[DISCUSSION] - Languages and Why We Should all be Bilingual.

One question I often get asked is this:

Why are you trying to learn so many different languages?
The easy answer is, because I can and because language fascinates me. But I'm not interested in talking about the easy answer.

My native language is English (British). I like to think I'm pretty damn fluent in it. I am currently trying to learn three new languages: German, Norwegian and Japanese. I'm doing pretty well in German, and I can hold small conversations. Likewise, in Norwegian, I'm almost as good.

These two languages, when looking at their spelling, word order, and translation, are not too far off from English- which is perhaps why I am able to pick them up with relevant ease. I just really have to work on my pronunciation of the words.

Japanese (Hiragana, for now) is much more difficult for me to grasp. I think it is because of how very different the character system is- I'm used to letters, and variants of them.

Enough of that, though; let's talk about why I really like learning new languages.

First of all, it's fun. It's nothing like having to study for an exam at school- this is just to benefit me as a person, in my own time, with no deadlines or drawbacks. I get to proceed in a way that is comfortable for me and at a pace I get to choose and be happy with.

Second, I get to learn about cultures. I can discover fascinating people, and understand how they react because of their speech patterns- Norwegian vocabulary does not have words for "the", and will often emit "of" from sentences. How weird is that? But then think: how normal is that.

Learning a new language is going to benefit my career and ambitions. I wish to enter the journalism world, and also travel- both which would require an ability to communicate with people all across the globe. Just think of how many interesting stories I could cover in foreign places!

I think the final reason is the most extravagant. It's because I want to read, and not just English texts. Yes, texts are translated - The Metamorphosis was originally written in German, just like Murakami's books were in Japanese and Jo Kyung-ran's in Korean. I want to experience these books in their unaltered form- not every word translates. Some words translate wrong, lose their meaning.

And so I want to learn as many languages as I can, and as in depth as I can- because I know that doing so will make me a better person. It will make me more educated, and it will open up far more doors for me in the future. This is why I believe bilingualism should be essential and mandatory in schools all across the UK and the world. In many places it is, but it isn't here. Sure, it's preferred, but it's not forced, which means children won't do it if they don't have to.

Are any of my readers bilingual? If so, I'd like to hear from you! What languages can you speak? What's your opinion on schools teaching second languages?

Thank you for reading :-)

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