Why Learn More Languages Other than English?
Most Indian children are effectively bilingual as they learn their mother tongue at home (which often also becomes their second language at school), and pick up English as it is the common medium of instruction in school. As English is the dominant international lingua franca of business, shouldn’t proficiency in English be the primary focus for most students?
While a good working knowledge of English is definitely an advantage, learning an additional international language (like French, Spanish or Japanese) would be of immense benefit.
Learning a new language from a young age helps our brain to – literally – grow. It was proven from a controlled experiment in Sweden that learning a new language and working to achieve proficiency it resulted in growth of two parts of the brain: The hippocampus (which regulates motivation, emotion, learning and memory) and areas in the cerebral cortex (which determines intelligence, personality, motor function, planning and organization and processing of sensory information).
This translated to a noted improvement in math, reading and vocabulary skills. People who are multi-lingual also benefit from improved focus, better absorption of knowledge, ability to become more perceptive of other points of view and better listening skills. Might we add that learning more language slows down the brain’s ageing process and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s.
The most deep-rooted benefit lies in the fact that a new language opens up the doors to understanding a new culture. In knowing more about how another country’s people live, we develop a greater sense of empathy and respect for a different way of life. This will surely play a greater part in fostering a sense of global unity and tolerance – which is one more step towards creating a better future.