European Day of Languages

As part of the European Day of Languages, Upper Sixth student, Elli Chappelhow, blogs on why using foreign languages is so important.

If you perceive foreign languages to be a doorway to diverse cultures, it’s clear to see why many choose to study them.

Once the linguistic door has been opened, you instantly have a broader understanding of that culture, allowing you to be more flexible and appreciative of other ways of life. As a result, multi-linguists have the advantage of seeing the world from different perspectives, meaning they are often more rounded individuals.

When you know the local language, travelling instantly becomes a far more enriching experience. Through personal experience, talking with the locals in their language delights them. Even if you only know a few basic phrases, they genuinely appreciate the effort. When you show an interest in the language and the culture, who knows what opportunities may arise?

With universally high unemployment rates, a multilingual ability is a competitive edge over others. Learning a language demonstrates intelligence, flexibility, openness to diverse people, and decision-making skills, which are all essential in the workplace and in daily life.

Not only do languages dramatically increase your job prospects, they also help you with fluency in your own language. Personally, I have found that through studying foreign languages my awareness of the mechanics of language has increased – such as syntax, grammar, conjugation and vocabulary. Thus, my writing skills have become sharper and my vocabulary has blossomed, due to recognising complex English words that have derived from other languages.

Communication is one of the fundamentals of life. The opportunities foreign languages bring are endless, and with the world becoming ever more accessible there is a constant need for linguists.

Furthermore, due to recent political developments relating to the European Union, it is more important than ever to demonstrate an interest and understanding of our European neighbours, and their language and culture.

If more people were to study languages, I think that the world would be a more appreciative and harmonious place. As German writer Johann von Goethe said: “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”

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