1. To increase global understanding
"... [E]ffective communication and successful negotiations with a foreign partner--whether with a partner in peacekeeping, a strategic economic partner, a political adversary, or a non-English speaking contact in a critical law enforcement action --requires strong comprehension of the underlying cultural values and belief structures that are part of the life experience of the foreign partner." - Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education
"A different language is a different vision of life." - Federico Fellini, Italian film director
"No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive." - Mohandas K. Gandhi, Indian nationalist and spiritual leader
Learning another language gives the learner the ability to step inside
the mind and context of that other culture. Without the ability to
communicate and understand a culture on its own terms, true access
to that culture is barred. Why is this important? In a world where
nations and peoples are ever more dependent upon on another to supply
goods and services, solve political disputes, and ensure international
security, understanding other cultures is paramount. Lack of intercultural
sensitivity can lead to mistrust and misunderstandings, to an inability
to cooperate, negotiate, and compromise, and perhaps even to military
confrontation. Intercultural understanding begins with individuals
who have language abilities and who can thereby provide one's own
nation or community with an insider's view into foreign cultures,
who can understand foreign news sources, and give insights into other
perspectives on international situations and current events. For survival
in the global community, every nation needs such individuals. A person
competent in other languages can bridge the gap between cultures,
contribute to international diplomacy, promote national security and
world peace, and successfully engage in international trade.
As globalization and mobility and communications are bring the
world ever closer together, ever more urgent is the need for global
citizens to be competent in other languages. The United States
is the only industrialized country that routinely graduates
students from high school who lack knowledge of a foreign language.
Whereas 52.7% of Europeans are fluent in both their native tongue
and at least one other language, only 9.3% of Americans are fluent
in both their native tongue and another language. This statistic
does not bode well for the future of America in a global society.
The upward trend in language learning must accelerate if the U.S.
is to continue to be a major participant on the international
Book tip: Here is an additional resource that underscores just how critical it is for English speakers to be learning foreign languages:
Why You Need a Foreign Language and How to Learn One, by Edward Trimnell, 236 p. (2005)The author convincingly demonstrates why a knowledge of languages other than English is essential if native speakers of English are to compete successfully in the global marketplace, to understand others, and to protect themselves from emerging threats throughout the world. This is the newly revised and expanded version of the 2003 edition.
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