Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why should someone learn another language?

Why should someone learn another language?

Well, I think there are three possible choices. 1) Learning a language is useful because you can use it. 2) Learning a language is a good thing to do for reasons other than using it, and 3) learning a language is not a worthwhile thing to do. Of course, you could argue that these are not always mutually exclusive, 

For non-TESOL people, the first should be obvious. Health care workers, social workers, and law enforcement people among others can all benefit from learning minority languages.

Taking the second, learning a language can teach the benefits of incremental practice and mental discipline. It can also, in many cases, improve your awareness of English grammar and practice. I've met Lawrence Schoen, the PhD linguist who serves part-time as head of the Klingon Language Institute, and if one has the good fortune to meet him he can make very convincing sounding arguments that learning Klingon, the artificial language inspired by the Star Trek aliens, is a very positive, beneficial and interesting thing to do.

I can argue the third, but won't do so here.

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