Photo by Tyler Meuter

With the rise of airplanes and fast affordable transportation in the past century, as well as the rapid expansion of the internet and various other nigh instantaneous communication technologies in more recent years, being culturally aware has become an essential skill both for business interactions and for life in general. Perhaps the most obvious difference between certain cultures (and definitely the difference that has been touted as being a sturdy and inconvenient brick wall in the way of understanding) is language.

Acknowledging this, it should come as no surprise that learning a new language is paramount to understanding more about our world. The mere fact that you are attempting to learn a new language is enough to open new doors in your mind, allowing the previously impossible to become rather simplistic.

Outside the US, emphasis on other languages is already apparent, with many learning English in grade school despite not having any immediate use for it in their local environment. With this in mind, it becomes easier for Americans in general to feel that there
is no need to become fluent or even merely mediocre in a second language.

This is, of course, a grave error in logic. You cannot expect everyone to be able to convert to your way of thinking (and speaking) simply because it is common practice to do so.

Of course, some people are natural linguists while others struggle with even rudimentary concepts of other spoken languages; not everyone has the proper mindset to learn a foreign language, and multiple studies show that after a certain (disputed, though usually no more than 20) age is reached, learning the phonetic nuances of a different language becomes nearly impossible and certainly impractical due to the complete lack of reference or precedence in one’s native tongue. Even more than phonetic differences, some languages don’t count in base 10, such as French.

This does not, however, excuse those who have not yet attempted to become familiar with foreign pronunciations to skip learning a different language altogether; there are several alternatives. Esperanto, perhaps the most pointless language known to man, is a created language which its inventor, Zamenhof, specifically designed to be easy to learn. With over two million speakers, Esperanto is the most widely known of the many languages
hilariously designed to make global communication easier (which so far, they have all failed to

Learning this type of language, Klingon or Quenya are each equally pointless in the business world, but will open the student’s mind to other ways of solving a problem. For instance, fantasy languages tend not to have words for technology such as phones or computers, forcing the speaker to describe what he means infancy metaphors.

The same is true, though to a lesser extent, of any language the speaker is not entirely fluent in. Figuring out how to say that you desire a sandwich when
you do not know how to say sandwich nor want will lead to a brainteaser; the end result may end up being a statement that you are hungry followed closely by a question of what the foreign word for meat and lettuce between some bread is.

This is the most important reason to learn another language in the first place. It is less important to be able to memorize an entire language than it is to be able to communicate with another person, while still lacking those complex grammar mechanics and crucial vocabulary.

Once this creativity gain of learning a new language has been identified, it becomes acceptable to learn a language that no one speaks, such as a programming language. Programming languages, tho-ugh not spoken, can be just as viable as spoken words to help  expand the mind’s horizons. These created languages have been designed to be exactly logical and precise, even if MATLAB indexing from one isn’t the most logical thing around.

Even the novelty languages such as Shakespeare follow meticulous rules to arrive at their conclusions. Learning these languages allows you to truly think about what is being said and what it exactly means.

Knowing just a single language limits the monolinguist to a certain frame of mind. Sticking to one language means that you will rarely be introduced to concepts for which your native tongue has no simple words, such as la madrugada in Spanish which is a convenient words meaning that time of day that is the most annoying to be awake, usually from around 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. (a time Tech students are probably very familiar with due to our insane workloads). There are countless affordable ways to learn a new language so go out there and just do it!