WorldView: A Language Blog

WorldView is a place for leaders in the fields of language education, global citizenship, immersion learning and other topics central to the Concordia Language Villages mission to address issues important to their fields.

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Why Learn Another Language?

By Christine Schulze | Published: October 17, 2017

We know that learning another language is one of the most rewarding things a person can do in life. But it’s not easy, and it takes years of ongoing effort; there’s obviously a lot more to learning French than just being able to order bouillabaisse the next time you are in Marseilles. So once you’ve decided to learn a second, or even a third or fourth, language, the question is: which one do you choose? Or which ones do you recommend to others?

Over the next few months, we want to help you answer that question by providing you with more than 100 reasons to learn other languages.

Why learn Arabic? Talk with the world--and friends at home! Nearly 300 million people speak Arabic as a first language across 26 countries.

Chinese? Speak with 1.3 billion people! German? You could study abroad for free! French? Make a difference undertaking diplomacy or humanitarian work around the world. How about Swedish to connect with amazing innovators? At Concordia Language Villages, we’re in the unique position of being able to offer programs for youth, families and adults in 15 different languages, so we’ve had our directors, teachers and staff give us their best pitches. Our posts on social media for the next three months will focus on the reasons unique to each of these languages.

Do you admire a particular country—like Finland, which tops the world today in education, equality and the environment? Or perhaps you want a career in diplomacy or the military? Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Russian are deemed “critical languages” by the U.S. government and essential to national security, which could lead to scholarships and great jobs. Some reasons appeal simply to preexisting interests: you could learn Italian to better hone your musical ear or culinary skills, connect to Viking traditions through Norwegian, or explore the Amazon basin with a command of Portuguese.

Why Learn Korean? Open a gateway to Asia! Korean shares a rich history, as well as many linguistic and cultural concepts, with its geographical neighbors, making it easier to work across all of East Asia.

We suspect that a few of these reasons will surprise you, so look out for them, and share those that resonate with you. Did you know that Japanese culture profoundly respects learning and welcomes students of their language and culture, making Japan an excellent place to travel or study abroad? That Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest places in the world? Or that learning Spanish will enable you to better navigate the 22 Spanish-speaking countries, enjoying a deeper connection with fellow travelers and local hosts?

Why Learn Russian? Talk like a cosmonaut! NASA requires American astronauts to attain Intermediate High proficiency in Russian prior to starting their training.

No matter how you decide to #LivetheLanguage, we can promise you this: doors will open for you. You will keep your brain revving in high gear, even as you age. Your job prospects and earnings potential will be enhanced. You will travel with more confidence and derive greater benefit from those travels. And whichever language you learn, you will learn more about yourself and the world around you.

 

About the Author

Christine Schulze is the executive director of Concordia Language Villages. She has been on staff for 43 years and has served as the top executive of the Language Villages since 1989. Schulze is board chair emeritus of the Alliance for International Exchange in Washington, D.C., an organization which promotes federal policies that support and advance educational and cultural exchange in all its dimensions. Schulze earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota, and a B.A. from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. She is fluent in French, and has working knowledge of German and Spanish.

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