When it comes to learning another language, there is a tired old joke that goes something like this: “What do you call a person who speaks three or more languages? A polyglot. What about someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual. And one language? An Englishman.”
Now, there are a few caveats to that joke. The first is that, on the whole, Americans, Australians and other speakers of English as a first language are just as bad (or worse) than the English, only 40% of whom could hold a decent conversation in a second language.
The second is that all of these Anglo-Saxon nations have relatively large – and growing – populations of immigrants and foreign residents, so people are often exposed to other languages even if they don’t speak them. We know that big cities are different from the country at large, but around a quarter of Londoners do not have English as their mother tongue, the same as Melbourne, while in New York it’s almost 50%!
Third and most importantly, native speakers of English do not need to speak another language. It may sound arrogant to say so, but being born a native speaker of English is a truly exceptional piece of good luck. Although there are fewer than 400 million native speakers of English in the world, placing it behind Mandarin and Spanish, over 1.5 billion people are actively studying it as a second language. Look at any multinational organisation and you will see that their internal correspondence, meetings, transactions and negotiations are carried out in English.
E2Language offers skill-building English lessons like this one on our E2 Core Skills YouTube channel. These lessons are perfect for individuals with functional English who need to master the complexities of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
Learning another Language Opens Doors For Everyone.
The lack of linguistic diversity of English speakers is to be lamented, but it does leave the non-native speaking professional at a serious disadvantage. It is therefore worth spelling out some positive reasons for investing your time, money and effort into language learning, even though your English-speaking colleagues are too comfortable/lazy/incompetent to do the same themselves! Keep in mind, these reasons are also geared toward native English speakers. English monolinguals should seriously consider investing the time to learn a language, both for personal and professional gains. Here are three positive reasons why you should start learning another language today:
Learning another language makes you a more interesting person.
The more foreign languages you know, the broader your personal horizons. Reading, speaking, writing and listening in other languages can help you gain different perspectives on international events, maintain meaningful correspondence with people across the globe and exchange ideas with people from other countries and cultures.
Learning another language helps to exercise your memory and stimulates your powers of reasoning and concentration.
Many English speakers live in a homogenous language bubble, while those who speak multiple languages are able to bypass the slapdash simplifications offered up by translation software.
Recruiters actively prefer to take on polyglots.
Learning a language means you become a highly valued professional on the job market and enables you to apply for a wider range of jobs and achieve higher positions when you get there. Surprisingly, recent research by Google showed that the number of non-English speaking 18 to 34 year-olds enrolled in language schools is relatively low. This would suggest that there will soon be a spike in demand on the job market for polyglots.
There you have it, there are some real advantages that come with learning a language, no matter who you are! In the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” So get out there and start learning; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Do you want to improve your English language abilities for professional or personal purposes? We’re here to help!
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Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil
Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language