Why It’s Good to Learn a Second or Third Language

Why It’s Good to Learn a Second or Third Language


Did you know that learning a second or third language is beneficial? It can actually help you in many ways. One example is that it keeps your mind healthy. Humans constantly try to challenge their minds, and what’s a better way than learning a new language? Plus, it delays the onset of dementia. It also helps you better understand the way that the human mind works. It’s always good to understand people — whether they are strangers on the street or your closest friends. If all humans understood each other better, there would be less disagreement and arguing.

Did you know that if you learn another language it can help increase the chances of meeting your future spouse? That’s because it keeps your options open and gives you more of a variety of people to meet. In the past you may have only been able to fall in love with the people who spoke your language, but if you learn another language, it adds millions more people for you to converse with. You could find your true love in a country other than your native one.

And finally, it helps you respect your own culture and traditions. You can compare how you grew up to how people all around the world grew up. Talk to them about how they grew up, and then tell them about how you grew up. Compare your native culture to some foreign ones.  You can understand other traditions as well as your own, and you can think about what other people believe in. Language is very closely tied to culture. Mrs. Shattuck provided a good example of this from her study of the French language: “Bon comme le pain!” (which means, “It’s good like bread!”) is a French saying used to express delight because the French really love their bread. Culture is a huge part of every country, and it’s great to learn more about yours.

The DiRectory interviewed some students and teachers on the subject of learning a second language.

DiRectory: Do you know more than one language? If so, what? If not, do you want to learn another language?

Mrs. Shattuck: I’m not fluent, but I have studied French and Spanish. I absolutely love French and think it’s the most beautiful language in the world.

Mr. Kakas: I, in fact, have studied eight languages so far: Latin, Ancient Greek, Irish Gaelic, German, Modern Greek, Hungarian, Lycian, and Sanskrit. At the moment, I am torn between learning Japanese, French, and Hebrew.

Mr. Zerpa: Yes, my second language is English and my third language is HTML.

Jay M.: Yes, Spanish.

Kassidy W.: No, I don’t know any language besides English. I do think It would be fun to learn a foreign language, though.

Daphne L.: Yes, I know English and Chinese.

Olivia L: No, I don’t know more than one language, but I’d like to learn a different language.

Jackson M: No, but I am currently learning Spanish.

Cooper A: No, but I’m interested in learning another language.

Valeria S.: Yes, I speak Russian and English.

Ms. Morano: No, I don’t, but yes, it is a challenge I’d be willing to accept.

DiRectory: Do you think it’s challenging to learn another language?

Mr. Kakas: Initially, it is.  Learning another language requires not only reinforcing one’s knowledge of grammar, but also understanding how people of other cultures think.  Each language has its own flow and pattern that defines it.  As you study language more, these patterns become more distinct, yet simultaneously similar.  By finding the patterns, the challenge becomes sliding into the mindset of the beliefs that have shaped that culture and language in order to more fully appreciate it.

Mrs. Shattuck: Yes, I definitely think it’s challenging to learn a different language, and I’m noticing that it seems harder for me to learn a new language now than when I was in high school and college. There are a couple possible reasons for this: It could be that I have more responsibilities now (working full time, a husband, and a home, for example) and don’t have as much time to study. Or it could also be another reason, such as a lack of motivation, since I’m not being graded now, as I was when I was in school learning French and Spanish.

Mr. Zerpa: As we become more global citizens, it should be a personal goal to want to learn at least a second language. It is a “good” challenge to have.

DiRectory: If there was one language you could speak, what would it be?

Mr. Kakas:  If I had to choose one that I were fluent in, it would be Hungarian.  My proficiency in it is less than I would like, and as it is part of my heritage, I would love to improve it again.

Mrs. Shattuck: I’m hoping to learn Gaelic because I’m half Irish, and I hope to visit Ireland some day. I recently bought a book and DVD to learn Gaelic; now I just need to find time to study it. In Ireland today, only a small percentage of the people speak Gaelic, but there is a Gaelic school in County Galway, Ireland, called Coláiste Lurgan, that is trying to promote the use of the Irish language among young people by producing music videos of popular songs in Irish. They want to excite the young people in Ireland to learn Gaelic, so the language doesn’t die. The students from the school volunteer to make the videos, and some local professional singers have offered their time free-of-charge. I think this is an innovative way to keep the Irish language alive; we all know how much the younger folks love their music videos, right? I want to be a small part of this initiative by learning Gaelic myself.

Kassidy W.: I want to learn German.

Daphne L.: I would like to speak Spanish.

Olivia L.: I would enjoy learning French or Swedish.

Mr. Zerpa: English continues to be the most important language to know in the world. If I had the unfortunate limitation of just having to know one language, I would choose English.

DiRectory: Do you think it’s beneficial to learn another language? Why or why not?

Mr. Kakas: There are a great number of benefits to learning other languages.  For me, the best ones are the ability to decipher individual words and grammar, the opportunity it provides for one to glimpse into the views of others, and the appreciation of the subtle art of nuance. Nuance is the unique implication and definition of a word that colors its meaning.  An example would be the difference between boat, ship, canoe, and raft.  Each vessel floats on a liquid body, but each is different in its own right.

Mrs. Shattuck: Yes, I think it’s beneficial to learn another language because research has shown that people who know more than one language acquire “metacognition,” which is an awareness of how you learn and how you think. This is knowledge that can help you in other areas of your life, not just for learning languages.

Mr. Zerpa: Just to name a few: People that know more than one language tap into more areas of their brain and create more vital neurological connections. From a business standpoint it makes a lot of sense to want to learn another language. In the United States, multilingual speakers earn an average of $7,000 more a year than their monolingual counterparts. From a social standpoint, knowing more than one language opens you up to getting to know people from different ethnicities and cultures in a much broader way. Being more sensitive and aware of cultural differences is clearly an important life skill to have.

DiRectory: Would you go to a different country if you knew another language? Why or why not?

Mr. Kakas: Certainly.  I’ve spent time abroad in Ireland, Greece, and Hungary, each of which I did while learning the language. There is no comparison to visiting a country and appreciating the culture that has driven each unique language to develop.

Mr. Zerpa: Yes, another advantage of knowing a foreign language lies in being able to connect with the native speakers of the countries that speak that language at a more deeper level. Imagine traveling to Spain, Italy, or France and being able to communicate with the people in their native tongue. How much more sublime would your experience be as a tourist? I most certainly would.

So, in conclusion, learning another language is important. You can be greatly affected in a positive way! Rectory is now teaching Spanish in the lower grades, as well as Latin in the upper grades, and we offer online language courses in French, Spanish, and Chinese to ninth graders. We want to prepare our students for their future education and their future expeditions. Learning a second or third language is a very good idea indeed, whether it is for travel, school, or just personal interest.