The Choir Said ‘Preach’ (but Precisely)

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This video makes many valid points about the benefits of language learning–from tolerance for ambiguity to increased cultural competence, just to name a few–but I found heightened critical reading skills missing from the list. Perhaps ‘learning a new language will make you a better reader’ is not as sexy as ‘learning a new language could help you become more risk-taking and entrepreneurial?’

All the same, learning a new language inevitably teaches you a thing or two about your own language first. I see it happen all the time–my students of Spanish will say: “I had no idea that (grammar concept) existed in English,” or “is that really the etymology (of that word I use all the time without even thinking)?!” Ok, let’s be real–they would never say etymology, and only some would even know what that word means. The point is that, by learning another language, they actually start to learn and marvel at their own. That, in turn, helps to make them more careful, sensitive, and ultimately, more precise communicators, capable of reading words and the way they are strung together more deliberately.

And that, alongside of cultural competence, tolerance for ambiguity, and calculated risk-taking, may be what’s so sorely needed in these days of babble and Babel.

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