Do you speak French? According to the BBC, there are over 7,700 languages around the world. There are over 250 languages spoken in China alone, not to mention the dozens of dialects within each language. And although there are many diverse languages throughout the world, many are grouped as they have a similar ancestry. English itself was a Germanic language and is thus related to German and Dutch. Language has evolved over many years and has changed rapidly. Language are also lost as it isn’t passed down and taught.
This is a fantastic lesson on language, you’re possibly thinking at the moment. I’ve learned so much from this, is another hopeful thought. And yet I can deduce that many young people have no desire to learn a second language if they don’t speak a language at home.
Learning a language isn’t just the simple “Bonjour”, “Hola”, “Ni Hao” or “Selamat pagi” (or hello in English, if you didn’t get my drift). It’s not just being able to converse with somebody else other than in English (and being able to impress your non-bilingual friends). It’s about learning about another culture, another society that’s foreign to your own. Learning a foreign language can help strengthen your first and it can also help cross a cultural barrier (I mean, come on, when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister the fact he could speak Mandarin was so wicked, with us and China.) It can help you understand sentence structure and grammar, and you can also widen your vocabulary and make it even more diverse than it already might be.
I’m sorry, you think, how on earth can it help me strengthen my English? Isn’t that kind of the complete opposite?
Do you know what an auxiliary verb is? What’s a past participle? There’s also a conditional tense? Wait! There’s more, like the imperfect tense and reflexive verbs! Let me get my French book, and I can tell you a whole lot of French things that helped me improve on my English.
Learning a language reportedly boosts your brainpower and let me tell you, if you put down that you’re fluent in so and so language, there’s probably a high chance you’ll get the job! Because employers (I’m not speaking on behalf on anybody, by the way) would love somebody that could speak another language! And, oh of course, there’s also the fact that you get paid 8% more if you do!
I’m completely satisfied with my English, you argue. Well, dear English-speaking reader, while you might only have to learn a single language, those who don’t will have to learn two, including their native language. And, well, actually, in France, students have to master two languages other than English and French.
Because apparently, ‘Je peux parler francais et anglais’ (I can speak French and English) isn’t enough!