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Help Brainstorm Why Learning Another Language Is Important

N Beck


As a Spanish teacher, I'm always making sure my students understand why it's important for them to learn another language. All of the benefits, both personal and professional, it can bring to their lives. But! Amazingly, they don't always believe me.

Enter: this project. I thought, if I could get as many people as possible from all over the world to contribute to a list about why learning another language is essential and important and fun and [insert a bajillion other adjectives here], it would really help my students see its importance.

Can you help me out?
Just visit the Google Doc linked here to contribute to the list! Thank you.

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  • Janet Abercrombie

    I almost wrote a whole post on your question about why I learn languages (I learn them as an adult).

    I like to remember what it is like to feel dumb. That may sound silly, but as a traditionally successful student, I forget what it is like to struggle.

    After learning a language for a semester or two, I will travel to the country. In the past, I did immersion courses and stayed in a homestay situation (now I'm more likely to just explore). My brother's comment in China was golden. He said, "So this is what it feels like to be illiterate." I seriously considered volunteering to teach reading to illiterate adults - there are more around than we realise.

    I learn to be resourceful, grappling with the words that I know to get the things that I need. My last time in Spain, I couldn't remember the word for 'fork'. Instead, I said 'The thing that you eat with'. It worked.

    I learn about the kindness and generosity of others. By eating in local restaurants, I have to either decipher a menu or ask the waiter "What do you like?" The simple question has gotten me some of the best meals I've ever had.

    I learn more about the ways others see the world. The phrases used in different languages helps me understand things like 'The nail sticking up gets the hammer', emphasising a culture's value of humility.

    Learn languages. Throw yourself into new countries. You'll never be the same or think in the same way.

  • Ashley Victoria

    What a great idea! Studying foreign languages has added such a richness to my life. I added my two cents to the doc :)

    • N Beck

      Thanks so much Ashley for your input! I really appreciate it :).

  • cory.trembath

    What a beautiful idea. I love- and agree with- all the reasons listed so far, and have added a few of my own. Thanks!

    • N Beck

      I'm so happy that this is resonating with folks. Thanks Cory for your comment AND for adding to the list. I really appreciate it! :)

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I definitely feel like learning a new language helps you think quickly- and rewires your brain so that you think of the world differently too. Knowing Spanish even helped me pick up some other languages, like Twi- just bec that muscle in my brain was flexed.

  • Casey Caplowe

    This is a great question, and there's some responses i really like going on your google doc. I'm a big fan of the points on there that learning other languages helps you discover new ways of looking at and understanding the world especially as you find those wonderful words and phrases that exist in other languages but not in your own and open up whole new synapses in your brain.

    • N Beck

      Yes! I too find the idea that language study opens up one's perspective to be supremely powerful. Learning another's language allows us to see the world through their perspectives. Put ourselves in their shoes. This, hopefully, leads to greater empathy and understanding between cultures. Or at least I think that's the idea / what I've experienced with my own language learning. Thanks so much for the wonderful comment!

  • Jackie Ramirez

    Hey Prof Beck, what a great question to present to the GOOD community and take back to your students. This is crowdsourcing at its best. I've added a few things on your list. I hope this helps. As a bilingual I can say that knowing more than one language has taken me pretty far in life and has opened up many doors. (P.S. You've been featured in the homepage carousel).

    • N Beck

      Hey Jackie, Thanks so much for contributing! I'm so excited that people are adding to the list and tweeting/sharing the project with others. I would have never thought it would have gotten this much attention. Thanks again! :)