Speak Languages, Change The World

What do Malala Yousafzai, Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, and Óscar Arias Sánchez have in common?

All four of them have received the same award. Different causes, but the same prize. A prize reserved for a few, a few who have devoted their energy to helping others, who have made the world a better place.

Yes, all four of them have received the Nobel Peace Prize. The prize that is awarded to the person who has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

One language, many nationalities

But the Nobel Peace Prize is not the only thing they have in common. There is something else that unites them: they all speak more than one language.

Malala Yousafzai speaks Pashto, Urdu, and English; Kofi Annan speaks English, French, and several African languages; Mandela spoke Xhosa and English; and Óscar Arias Sanchez speaks Spanish and English.

They all speak English as well as other languages. And this is no coincidence.

We all know that English is one of the languages that opens the most doors, both professionally and personally. Not only because there are 360 million people who speak it as their first language and 400 million who speak it as a second language, but also because:

  • English is the main language of international discourse.
  • It is the official language of the majority of Commonwealth countries.
  • It is one of the official languages of the European Union.
  • It is the official language of many global organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Speak languages, make your mark on the world

And there are more advantages to being able to speak English: according to the EF English Proficiency Index 2015, in countries where English is more widely spoken people earn more and have a better quality of life.

But perhaps the greatest advantage of being able to speak several languages is that you can share your knowledge with people in other countries. You can inspire others with your ideas. You can effect change and be a part of the process. You can improve the world. And who knows, you could even be the next winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!

As Nelson Mandela once said, “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”.

Jonay Suárez — Head of Marketing at Wibbu.

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