How Proficiency in Multiple Languages Increases Adaptability
Language is the expression of human communication through which knowledge, belief, and behavior can be experienced, explained, and shared. This sharing is based on systematic, conventionally used signs, sounds, gestures, or marks that convey understood meanings within a group or community
List of the Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World
The world is full of diversity; diversity in people, plants, animals.... and languages. The Cambridge Encyclop-edia of Language says that estimates of total living languages in the world vary from 3,000 to 10,000. Below is a list of the most widely spoken languages in the world (listed in order of the number of native speakers)
- Mandarin Chinese (836 million)
- Hindi (333 million)
- Spanish (332 million)
- English (322 million)
- Bengali (189 million)
- Arabic (186 million)
- Russian (170 million)
- Portuguese (170 million)
- Japanese (125 million)
- German (98 million)
- French (72 million)
The United Nations uses six official languages in its intergovernmental meetings and documents, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish (source); the Secretariat uses two working languages, English and French.
Reasons to Learn Other Languages
The obvious reason is that the world is now a “Global Village” with everything being interconnected. As the world becomes more globalized, the importance of learning at least a second language cannot be overemphasized. Today, borders dividing nations are becoming more and more insignificant. Firms and Institutions are going international and multinational every other day; people are leaving one end of the earth to study, visit or do business in another end of the earth. Knowledge of more than one widely spoken language will increase our flexibility and adaptability in today’s world.
Many people discover that as they learn another language; their first language (mother tongue) isnotice that they start paying more attention to grammar, phonetics and other things that native speakers usually take for granted. Their desire to even expand their vocabulary in their native language increases, as another language is learned.
There is a very interesting phenomenon that could be observed as a foreign language is learned; that of gaining an insight into the culture and character of a people. In a sense, language can be considered as the verbal expression of culture. Language provides many of the categories that is used for expression of thoughts, so it is therefore safe to assume that the thinking of a people is influenced by the language which they use. Languages with limited words of endearment will probably mean an unromantic people; languages that give the possibility for much slang can imply a more laid back people; languages with many words that describe things in nature will imply a people with strong affinity to earth and environment; languages with many swear words could mean a people who’s strongest trait is not patience.
Famous Language Quotes
- “Language shapes what we think and determines what we think about.” Benjamin Lee Whorf
- “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- “Change your Language and you change your thoughts.” Stephen King
- “Learn a new language and get a new soul.” Czech Proverb
- “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Ludwig Wittgenstein
Language School versus Self-study
It doesn't matter whether foreign languages are learned in formal settings like conventional schools, language schools, or if they are self tutored (it depends on self discipline).What is important is that foreign language instruction is valued because it is one of the best ways that can be used to know the world better, and to understand the people in it.