Second languages become increasingly necessary


Graphic by Brian Hwu

By Dyer Whitt
Staff Writer

Graphic by Brian Hwu.

Someone once said, “If you speak three languages, you’re trilingual. If you speak two languages, you’re bilingual. If you speak one language — you’re American.”

This humorous yet extremely truthful statement is becoming increasingly more apparent in today’s society. While high school students are required to have at least two years of a foreign language under their belts, the fact of the matter is, most will not retain or reuse any of the information learned within the first year of halting language education.

While under the Distinguished Achievement Program for graduation, I was required to take three years of Spanish. As a Texan, I see an excessive amount of use for Spanish in school, work and in society. Although I was incapable of fully retaining all the information I learned, it came to my surprise that I actually utilized my language education outside of school.

Just the other weekend while volunteering at a thrift store in Irving, a city that is almost half Hispanic, I engaged in many Spanish-speaking conversations with customers who were in need of assistance. While maintaining a deer in the headlights look, I made out what few words I could, but ultimately got the people the help they needed. Even though I vaguely remember my Spanish it came to great use while servicing English as a second language customers.

Those who find a second language unnecessary and impractical are blind of the thriving benefits that come alongside the journey of learning a language. Not only is English going to be surpassed by other languages such as Spanish and Mandarin, but also a second language is also crucial to understanding non-American aspects of the world as well as global unity.

One’s philosophy on life is generally influenced by what they see, hear and think everyday. An English only speaker is more than likely to be immersed in American culture and therefore there will be less room to implement other cultures, ideas or concepts. On the other hand, a person who is continually learning a different language gains a new perspective on life. This perspective is something that a trip to Europe or vacation to a foreign beach can’t offer.

Learning a second language can be difficult, time consuming and overall frustrating. Even if you start early on in your life the tediousness can be quite overwhelming. These aspects though are some of the few any human can expect when trying to accomplish something great, a second language is no exception. Whether it takes you a few years or a lifetime to adapt to a new language, in the long run you will see that it is a meaningful and even fun way to increase your sense of achievement.

The acquisition of a second language undoubtedly effects the development of one’s brain, problem solving skills and the way they think. When a person masters a foreign language they have to incorporate translation skills when speaking, thinking or writing from their native to foreign language. This process is what directly influences the brain and overall makes a person more intellectual.

Schools are doing a somewhat good job by enforcing foreign language, but in order for America to remain a top dog in global competition, we must first realize the important of language and communication with the outside world. Language influences our brains and developmental skills, but it also impacts the real world and more importantly our personal lives.