Why Learn a Language?

Isn’t it a waste of effort? Here’s why it’s not.

This question is probably one of the most commonly asked questions to native English-speaking language learners around the world. No matter what the language is, people always challenge why they want to master another language.

Some common questions include:

  1. Doesn’t everyone else already speak English in that country?
  2. Is it even worth the time and effort if it’s so difficult?
  3. Won’t translation software replace bilingual people anyway?
Perfecting something always takes time.

Here are are my responses:

  1. No, not everyone speaks the language and you don’t know how basic or advanced the other person’s level is. The reality is that people feel more comfortable communicating in their native language and understand less since they don’t know your language like you do. You need to know how to grade your language down to their level for communication to run smoothly, and most native speakers don’t know how to do that.
  2. Learning another language is always worth it because it’s not about just adding another skill to your resume. Its about learning about people and culture. It’s about gaining another perspective. Some things just aren’t about money or naming a price for your time. You will never successfully learn a language if you don’t find it interesting, but if you have that interest, you will find learning personally rewarding. This probably depends on how much the learner values culture and understanding, which will vary from person to person.
  3. This excuse is usually said by people who have never translated or don’t know much about language. The reality is that most ideas worth communicating don’t translate well and need either two people to properly translate or one very skilled bilingual translator who can do the job of two people. In the former situation, one person needs to translate from their native language to the target language and then the second person needs to know the target language natively to properly edit the translation. Sometimes the point is understood but it’s communicated in a very choppy way. For medical clinics, museums, professional publications, or anything important, proper grammar and style make a really big difference when it comes to brand management. This is why translation is important; it’s all in the details.

Regardless of the language you choose, you will always get something out of it. Never listen to people who try to tell you that a language is useless, because it’s simply not true. People who say that just don’t understand what learning can offer you.