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Globalization – more reasons than ever to learn a new language.

April 5, 2010 by
Filed under: Globalization, Translation 

“English is a tool, just like a piece of technology. Much of the world’s economy is tied up in English-speaking countries and for that reason, English is like a cell phone provider offering the best plan. But if the dollar continues to drop, the most viable option could shift.” John Hayden, president of Versation, a social networking site for English language learners around the world, states.

Don’t underestimate the value of knowing languages other than English in a globalized world. Nothing makes a trip to Japan better than knowing Japanese and if you’re bidding on a contract in India, the proposal written in Hindi is sure to stand out. A philosopher who can read German articles before they’re translated has an edge on his peers.

In fact, globalization means that we have more reason than ever to learn a language. While globalization has its benefits and drawbacks, learning a language, like almost any other skill, is at best useful and at least a bit of personal edification (like learning Ancient Greek or fly fishing).

But at the moment, English is about as valuable as a computer in terms of the amount of cultural exchange and access to information it affords. This flexibility exists because other languages aren’t going away. It’s important to understand that English is growing as a second or
third language.

I’ve yet to hear of a country changing its first language to English to better compete globally and I doubt that will happen.

A Bulgarian woman might fly to the U.S. for a meeting, but will still walk to the grocery store. She might send American partners news via e-mail, but will still gossip on her neighbor’s porch, read and sing in Bulgarian, and speak it with her family — and with you if you’re smart.

Rudimentary English might still be the most convenient means of oral or written communication between strangers of different cultures on planet Earth, but globalization is giving a new (virtual) planetary presence to hundreds of languages and cultures.

In fact, it seems widely agreed upon that a person who speaks more than one language is worthy of admiration. The fact that nearly two billion people are learning English means that there are more bilingual people than ever before.

Though shared languages between countries are necessary for globalization to thrive, the popularity of English is incidental and could change any decade. Mexico and Korea don’t need English to communicate if Korea begins to find it profitable to learn Spanish.

Isn’t it time to start thinking now how we can prepare ourselves if this shift occurs?

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4 Comments on Globalization – more reasons than ever to learn a new language.

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