We No Speak Americano English Language Essay

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Most people in the world are multilingual, and everybody could be; no one is rigorously excluded from anothers language community except through lack of time and effort. Different languages protect and nourish the growth of different cultures, where different pathways of human knowledge can be discovered. They certainly make life richer for those who know more than one of them.

-Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word-

Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.

-Dave Barry-

Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eigenen

Those who know no foreign language knows nothing of their mother tongue.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe-

Language is the archives of history.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson-

Kolik jazyků znáÅ¡, tolikrát jsi človÄ›kem.

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You live a new life for every new language you speak.

If you know only one language, you live only once.

-Czech proverb-

Colleges are often very enthusiastic about students that can speak more than one language, as are employers in many different venues.

Languages are tightly interwoven with the culture of a nation, and if one is to understand a culture, one must first learn the languages associated with it.

In today's globalized society, being able to speak many languages is increasingly becoming a very valuable resource as one better communicate and achieve greater connections with foreigners, which can be beneficial for doing business.

Even if the person can speak English, one can connect and sympathize better with someone when one can speak the native language of the person.

Why should I learn a language?

Learning a foreign language takes time and dedication. The reasons below may help to convince you to take the plunge, if such persuasion is needed. Some reasons are practical, some aspirational, some intellectual and others sentimental, but whatever your reasons, having a clear idea of why you're learning a language can help to motivate you in your studies.

Kolik jazyků znáÅ¡, tolikrát jsi človÄ›kem.

You live a new life for every new language you speak.

If you know only one language, you live only once.

(Czech proverb)

Emigration

When you move to a different country or region, learning the local language will help you to communicate and integrate with the local community. Even if many of the locals speak your language, for example if your L1 is English and you move to the Netherlands, it's still worth your while learning the local language. Doing so will demonstrate your interest in and commitment to the new country.

Family and friends

If your partner, in-laws, relatives or friends speak a different language, learning that language will help you to communicate with them. It will also give you a better understanding of their culture and way of thinking.

Work

If your work involves regular contact with speakers of foreign languages, being able to talk to them in their own languages will help you to communicate with them. It may also help you to make sales and to negotiate and secure contracts. Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase your chances of finding a new job, getting a promotion or a transfer overseas, or of going on foreign business trips.

Many English-speaking business people don't bother to learn other languages because they believe that most of the people they do business with in foreign countries can speak English, and if they don't speak English, interpreters can be used. The lack of foreign language knowledge puts the English speakers at a disadvantage. In meetings, for example, the people on the other side can discuss things amongst themselves in their own language without the English speakers understanding, and using interpreters slows everything down. In any socialising after the meetings, the locals will probably feel more comfortable using their own language rather than English.

Study or research

You may find that information about subjects you're interested in is published mainly in a foreign language. Learning that language will give you access to the material and enable you to communicate with fellow students and researchers in the field.

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Language is the archives of history.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Travel

Many English speakers seem to believe that wherever you go on holiday you can get by speaking English, so there's no point in learning any other languages. If people don't understand you all you have to do is speak slowly and turn up the volume. You can more or less get away with this, as long as you stick to popular tourist resorts and hotels where you can usually find someone who speaks English. However, if you want to venture beyond such places, to get to know the locals, to read signs, menus, etc, knowing the local language is necessary.

Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.

(Dave Barry)

A basic ability in a foreign language will help you to 'get by', i.e. to order food and drink, find your way around, buy tickets, etc. If you have a more advanced knowledge of the language, you can have real conversations with the people you meet, which can be very interesting and will add a new dimension to your holiday.

Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.

The limits of my language are the limits of my universe.

(Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Studying abroad

If you plan to study at a foreign university, college or school, you'll need a good knowledge of the local language, unless the course you want to study is taught through the medium of your L1. Your institution will probably provide preparatory courses to improve your language skills and continuing support throughout your main course.

Secret communication

If you and some of your relatives, friends or colleagues speak a language that few people understand, you can talk freely in public without fear of anyone eavesdropping, and/or you can keep any written material secret. Speakers of such Native American languages as Navajo, Choctaw and Cheyenne served as radio operators, know as Code Talkers, to keep communications secret during both World Wars. Welsh speakers played a similar role during the Bosnian War.

Required course

You may be required to study a particular language at school, college or university.

Getting in touch with your roots

If your family spoke a particular language in the past you might want to learn it and possibly teach it to your children. It could also be useful if you are research your family tree and some of the documents you find are written in a language foreign to you.

Revitalising or reviving your language

If you speak an endangered language, or your parents or grandparents do/did, learning that language and passing it on to your children could help to revitalize or revive it.

Culture

Maybe you're interested in the literature, poetry, films, TV programs, music or some other aspect of the culture of people who speak a particular language and want to learn their language in order to gain a better understanding of their culture.

Most people in the world are multilingual, and everybody could be; no one is rigorously excluded from another's language community except through lack of time and effort. Different languages protect and nourish the growth of different cultures, where different pathways of human knowledge can be discovered. They certainly make life richer for those who know more than one of them.

(Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word)

Religion

Missionaries and other religious types learn languages in order to spread their message. In fact, missionairies have played a major role in documenting languages and devising writing systems for many of them. Others learn the language(s) in which the scriptures/holy books of their religion were originally written to gain a better understanding of them. For example, Christians might learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Biblical Greek; Muslims might learn Classical Arabic, and Buddhists might learn Sanskrit.

Food

Perhaps you enjoy the food and/or drink of a particular country or region and make regular trips there, or the recipe books you want to use are only available in a foreign language

Linguistic interest

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Maybe you're interested in linguistic aspects of a particular language and decide to learn it in order to understand them better.

Challenging yourself

Maybe you enjoy the challenge of learning foreign languages or of learning a particularly difficult language.

Sounds/looks good to me

Perhaps you just like the sound of a particular language when it's spoken or sung. Or you find the written form of a language attractive. If you like singing, learning songs in other languages can be interesting, challenging and enjoyable.

One language is never enough!

If like me you're a bit of a linguaphile / glossophile / linguaholic or whatever you call someone who is fascinated by languages and enjoys learning them, then one language is never enough.

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.

(Nelson Mandela)

Your reasons

If you have comments on the above or have other reasons for learning a foreign language,let me know.

To better understand our thought processes (from Judah Kay)

All of our thought processes are conducted in language, so really our entire existence or essense or soul, however we phrase it, is inextricably bound up to and with the languages we speak. Try to think without language for instance. However, we see that the language is in essence superficial, since many languages exist. To understand the true roots of our thought processes, the real nature of the human soul, a knowledge of several languages may be necessary.

To become someone else (from Janet Gil)

As a teen, I wished I were someone else. Learning Spanish let me be part of my best friend's family and have friends in college from South America whom I may not have met had I not had such an interest in learning Spanish. I liked myself with these other people more than I liked my American self (if that makes sense). I have known of people who learned another language at age 19 and above who now speak their second language almost without an accent but speak their first language with an accent!

To understand your own language and culture better (from Evona York)

Sometimes learning a foreign language helps you understand your own language and culture better through comparison, or through the relationship between the foreign language and your mother tongue. For instance, studying Latin in high school taught me an incredible amount of English, because English has so many words that come from the Latin. Same with Greek.

Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eigenen

Those who know no foreign language knows nothing of their mother tongue.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

To keep your mind healthy (from Harvey Schmidt)

Learning a second language has been proven to delay the onset of dementia.

To find your future husband/wife (from Rico Suave)

Learning a new language and culture increases the size of your selection pool.

To better understand the rest of humankind (from Philip Lightfoot)

Language is an aspect of humanity, and learning what a fellow human speaks teaches you more about humankind as a whole. The more languages you know, the more you understand our species, and that is beneficial no matter what the situation is.

To talk to friends without others understanding (from Elizabeth)

If you and some of your friends learn a foreign language, you'll be able to talk to each other without other people having a clue what you're saying. This works best if you choose a language few people study, such as Japanese. Only 9.3% of Americans are fluent in their natural tongue, while only 47.3% of people are limited to one language in Europe.

To learn songs in other languages (from Michelle Kelleher Tietz)

Michelle has been learning Irish and Scottish Gaelic because she likes to sing and has founded an a cappella group that sings in Celtic languages. They sing old work songs, lullabies, etc. This hobby combines her interests in languages, history and story telling.

To help people in need (from Nuntawun Yuntadilok)

Learning other languages increases our chances of providing help to people who seriously need it, such as those in hit by the tsunami of 2004, many of whom can not communicate in English, especially children.

Friendship (from Bill Conwell)

My best friend is French and speaks English, Spanish and some German as well. I am trying to learn French to enhance our communication, though he doesn't demand nor expect it.

Venting your feelings (from Dick H.)

Another reason why one might want to learn a foreign language is to insult/cuss out people without them understanding what you're saying. It works best if you choose a language few people study. Avoid the Big Two (Spanish and French), because too many of us learned them in high school. And you never know who has a German, Finnish, Italian, or Greek grandmother!

To help you understand how other people think (from Orionas)

Language influences culture, so learning a language helps you to understand how other people think, and it also helps you to get a general understanding of our world and the many people and cultures that inhabit it.

Because I love learning languages (from Cody Warren)

My reasons for learning foreign languages is because I just love to do it, it's all the different ways people express themself, and it shows that there really are other people out there (to a teenager who's always stuck at home in a small farm town). Its also a way to learn how people interact and socialize with each other, and how each society works.

Also, I like conlanging, and learning different languages help me to understand how things work so i can build conlangs, and vice versa, creating the conlangs help me to understand how all different languages grammars work (Im always a sucker for using a lot of moods, cases, tenses, etc).

Learning languages to me, is much more than making myself able to communicate with others. To me it's like getting some nice new surprise and a whole new level of understanding.

Showing respect (from Nicole Signer)

I believe that when somebody at least tries to learn the language of the country they are visiting it shows a lot of respect. People really appreciate it.

To express things that are difficult to express in your native language (from Tenacious Mel)

Learning a foreign language can provide you with ways to talk about things that might be difficult to express in your own language. It's also a way to get in touch with other selves.

To better understand your own language (from Kaiti)

In order to learn another language, you need to learn the different titles and functions of sentence parts. Learning these things can make you a better student and a more articulate person. Also, many of the root words used in foreign vocabulary will help you later on as you struggle to comprehend or analyze new words in your native language.

Understanding people (from Adam Briceland)

I believe a great reason to learn a foreign language such as Pacific island languages is so that you can understand what the native speakers are saying to each other when they're speaking their own language to each other. So you can sit there and not talk to them but completely understand what they're saying in public.

1. To increase global understanding

"... [E]ffective communication and successful negotiations with a foreign partner--whether with a partner in peacekeeping, a strategic economic partner, a political adversary, or a non-English speaking contact in a critical law enforcement action --requires strong comprehension of the underlying cultural values and belief structures that are part of the life experience of the foreign partner." - Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education 

"A different language is a different vision of life." - Federico Fellini, Italian film director

"No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive." - Mohandas K. Gandhi, Indian nationalist and spiritual leader

Learning another language gives the learner the ability to step inside the mind and context of that other culture. Without the ability to communicate and understand a culture on its own terms, true access to that culture is barred. Why is this important? In a world where nations and peoples are ever more dependent upon on another to supply goods and services, solve political disputes, and ensure international security, understanding other cultures is paramount. Lack of intercultural sensitivity can lead to mistrust and misunderstandings, to an inability to cooperate, negotiate, and compromise, and perhaps even to military confrontation. Intercultural understanding begins with individuals who have language abilities and who can thereby provide one's own nation or community with an insider's view into foreign cultures, who can understand foreign news sources, and give insights into other perspectives on international situations and current events. For survival in the global community, every nation needs such individuals. A person competent in other languages can bridge the gap between cultures, contribute to international diplomacy, promote national security and world peace, and successfully engage in international trade.

As globalization and mobility and communications are bring the world ever closer together, ever more urgent is the need for global citizens to be competent in other languages. The United States is the only industrialized country that routinely graduates students from high school who lack knowledge of a foreign language. Whereas 52.7% of Europeans are fluent in both their native tongue and at least one other language, only 9.3% of Americans are fluent in both their native tongue and another language. This statistic does not bode well for the future of America in a global society. The upward trend in language learning must accelerate if the U.S. is to continue to be a major participant on the international stage.

2. To improve employment potential

"[T]he English language alone is probably sufficient if all we need to do is buy our products abroad, if we need to purchase foreign goods and services. But when it comes to selling a product abroad, you have to understand the psychology and the belief structure of your client. If you are selling America abroad and telling America's story abroad [...] then you have to understand the value systems of that foreign public that you are speaking to." - Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education

If businesses are to effectively compete in a global economy, they must learn to deal with other cultures on their own terms. Companies that plan to do business abroad therefore have a dire need for bilingual or multilingual employees. Businesses that intend to compete internationally need employees who can competently communicate in the locales where they do business. Employees who speak one language can communicate only with people who speak that same language. 

Business is not the only area of employment where language competencies are needed, however. Multiple government agencies, the travel industry, engineering, communications, the field of education, international law, economics, public policy, publishing, advertising, entertainment, scientific research, and an broad array of service sectors all have needs for people with foreign language skills.

Whatever your career goals, knowing a language certainly won't hurt your employability. Chances are that knowing languages will open up employment opportunities that you would not have had otherwise. And you will be able to command a greater salary in the workplace. All else being equal, knowing languages gives you an edge over monolingual applicants competing for the same jobs.

3. To increase native language ability

"Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Research shows that knowledge of other languages boosts students' understanding of languages in general and enables students to use their native language more effectively. This applies to specific language skills as well as overall linguistic abilities. Foreign language learners have stronger vocabulary skills in English, a better understanding of the language, and improved literacy in general. Higher reading achievement in the native language as well as enhanced listening skills and memory have been shown to correlate with extended foreign language study. These results are apparent in several studies as well as in test scores. With each additional year of foreign language instruction taken, a student's scores on college and graduate school entrance exams such as the SATs, ACTs, GREs, MCATs, and LSATs improve incrementally.

4. To sharpen cognitive and life skills

"We have strong evidence today that studying a foreign language has a ripple effect, helping to improve student performance in other subjects." - Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton

Because learning a language involves a variety of learning skills, studying a foreign language can enhance one's ability to learn and function in several other areas. Children who have studied a language at the elementary level score higher on tests in reading, language arts, and math. People who have learned foreign languages show greater cognitive development in areas such as mental flexibility, creativity, and higher order thinking skills, such as problem-solving, conceptualizing, and reasoning. 

In addition to cognitive benefits, the study of foreign languages leads to the acquisition of some important life skills. Because language learners learn to deal with unfamiliar cultural ideas, they are much better equipped to adapt and cope in a fast-changing world. They also learn to effectively handle new situations. In addition, the encounter with cultures different from one's own leads to tolerance of diverse lifestyles and customs. And it improves the learner's ability to understand and communicate with people from different walks of life.

5. To improve chances of entry into college or graduate school

Today, most colleges and universities require a minimum of two years of high school foreign language instruction for admission. And once enrolled in an undergraduate program, students are likely to find that their college or university prescribes foreign language courses as requirement for the degree. The majority of universities rightly consider knowledge of a foreign language and culture part of what every educated person should know. Many majors in the arts and humanities, in natural sciences and behavioral and social sciences, and in professional fields, also require the study of one or more languages to ensure success in the given field.

For those planning to continue on to graduate study in most any field, knowledge of a second and sometimes even a third language is often a prerequisite for admission. From mathematics to anthropology, from biology to art history, you will find that many if not most graduate programs require some kind of foreign language knowledge of their applicants. In some programs, graduate students are required to gain a reading knowledge of other languages as a degree requirement, especially in doctoral programs. This is because important research is often published in non-English language books and professional journals.

Even when an undergraduate or graduate institution doesn't require foreign language study, it's often recommended by programs. Knowing a language can't hurt your application, and is highly likely to make you a more competitive candidate in the admissions process.

6. To appreciate international literature, music, and film

"The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don't want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don't have a soul." - Thomas Moore, Irish poet, satirist, and composer

Most of the world's literary and artistic works have been written in languages other than English. A translation of a text can never be fully true to the intent, beauty, style, and uniqueness of its original. A translation is always to a large degree subject to the interpretation of the translator, not least because some elements of languages simply don't have translations in other languages. Word plays, metaphors, innuendoes, cultural references and culturally loaded vocabulary words, and formulations unique to the original language often get lost in translation. To be able to fully appreciate literature, theater, music, and film in other languages, one must be able to access them in their original form.

7. To make travel more feasible and enjoyable

"Here speeching American." - A sign in a Mallorcan shop entrance

"Cold shredded children and sea blubber in spicy sauce." - From a menu in China

"Refund!" - On a "Caution! Wet floor!" sign in a McDonald's restaurant in Italy

Though it's possible to travel to foreign countries without speaking the native language, your experience will be largely shaped by your ability or inability to see beyond the surface of the culture. When you lack the ability to communicate in the native language, you can not fully participate in day-to-day life, understand the culture, or communicate with the people. The language barrier can be anywhere from frustrating to downright dangerous. When you know the language, you have the comfort of being able to successfully navigate all sorts of situations, like order meals in restaurants, ask for and understand directions, find accommodations and perhaps negotiate cheaper prices, and meet and talk with natives, to name only a few. In most countries, people will appreciate attempts to use their language. You will be able to communicate more completely and have a deeper, more satisfying travel experience.

It's true that in tourist areas English may be spoken. However, even if the natives know some English, many are uncomfortable speaking it, particularly beyond their limited interactions with tourists. In addition, these well-beaten paths are not places where you will get to know the country you're visiting -- they cater to tourists and provide a watered-down and often stereotypical and commercialized version of the culture both to meet and profit from tourists' expectations. If you intend to stray from the tourist centers and explore the real country and really get to know it, you must know the language. Your language ability will allow you to see and do things that many visitors cannot.

8. To expand study abroad options

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - 

I took the one less traveled by, 

and that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost, American poet

Because relatively few Americans are competent in foreign languages, competition for study abroad programs in English-speaking countries is sometimes intense. Unfortunately, students often shy away from studying in countries where English is not the native language for all the wrong reasons. They mistakenly believe that their grades will suffer, that their language proficiency isn't adequate, or that they won't be able to fit in or understand the culture. 

Simply your willingness to learn a language can make you an apt candidate for many study abroad programs. Some foreign programs require no prior language experience and offer an intensive immersion experience prior to the selected program of study. Other programs require only a few semesters of prior language instruction. Whatever program you choose, continued language study while in the foreign country is typical. The benefit is that students can leave the language classroom and immediately put into practice what they have learned in class. Because students can focus on their language development while learning about the culture, their daily experiences and courses complement one another, leading to comparable or even better grades than at the home institution, where students often take a myriad of courses that have little or no connection.

9. To increase understanding of oneself and one's own culture

"The individual's whole experience is built upon the plan of his language." - Henri Delacroix, French painter and filmmaker

"As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own." - Margaret Mead, American anthropologist

Knowing another language and culture affords you the unique opportunity of seeing yourself and your own culture from an outside perspective. There are aspects of your language, yourself, your life, and your own culture that you accept as absolute and universal or that you have never even considered until you encounter a culture and people who do things in a much different way than you're used to. Contact with other languages and cultures gives you the unique opportunity to step outside your familiar scope of existence and view your culture's customs, traditions, and norms as well as your own value system through the eyes of others. Conversely, a monolingual, monocultural view of the world severely limits your perspective. Intercultural experiences have a monumental influence on shaping your identity, heightening your self-awareness, and giving you a full appreciation of your life situation. These things can happen only with knowledge of cultures and languages other than your own.

10. To make lifelong friends

"The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway." - Henry Boye, author

Knowing other languages effectively increases the number of people on the globe with whom you can communicate. And people who speak other languages fully appreciate the effort and desire learners expend to get to know their culture and to communicate with them. Whether through meeting foreign exchange students on your campus or local immigrants in your community, whether getting to know natives or international students while studying abroad, or whether establishing a connection with a pen pal in another country, your ability to speak other languages and your interest in other cultures can connect you deeply with people around the globe.

Use Your Words

Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.

Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.

The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favor of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.

In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn't remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why? In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: "The vase broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase."

http://www.vistawide.com/languages/why_languages8-10.htm

http://www.education.com/reference/article/culture-language/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868.html