I know that my country – the country where I was born and grew up, the country where my parents gave me everything – from first sip of milk to education and cultural upbringing, the country where I got my friends – this country is the best country in the world. But wait… Did you say “the world”? What is the world? Is it something where other people live? Do those people live their own ways and speak their own languages? Do they love their countries and their culture?
Of course, we know that there are other countries (we use internet-connected computers and smartphones). We probably heard/use words like Gastarbeiter, automobile, opera. But did you know they all came from different other languages to our language. Now what are the other languages and why do we learn foreign languages? I would say there are two main reasons.
The first one is just a practical reason that came from the past – knowing a foreign language helps you make more money. International trade is an essential part of the world economy and impossible without communication. So the ability to communicate in different languages simply gives you an advantage – an ability to do thing not everybody can do – and an opportunity to earn more.
The second reason lies more in the cultural or cognitive field. Simple example: How do I know that The Hamburgeris is tasty? Only because I tried other food and I can compare. The same with languages. “Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiß nichts von seiner eigenen” – which means “Those who do not know foreign languages do not know anything about their own” stated the famous German poet and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
And that is so true. I just started understanding it because I just started studying foreign language. And the more I learn it – the more I like it. The world is diverse. And that’s the beauty of it. And that diversity is expressed via languages. Each language is unique and beautiful as it absorbs all historical and cultural legacy of a nation.
So, knowing other languages not only benefits us with more opportunities and perspectives, but makes us more tolerant, open-minded, intelligent and creative.