Social Question

Yellowdog's avatar

What are some reasons for learning a foreign language if you have no foreseeable reason you might use the language, and most users of said language speak your own language fluently, anyway?

Asked by Yellowdog (12183points) August 21st, 2020

In college I couldn’t learn a language—not German, not Latin, not even Spanish which would have been useful since its all around us and comes in handy when someone needs help or assistance. I opted on writing dissertations on West Norden—the culture and geography.

But now, there are better techniques for learning languages. I picked up some Spanish through Missionary activity. And Apps are available to learn almost any language.

I am still wanting to learn the languages of West Norden including Icelandc, Faeroese, Norwegian— and have also liked Yiddish due to my involvement with Jewish studies. I still like Esperanto, for even though English is supplanting the role of a universal language, Esperanto encompasses a global dream that is still around, albeit modified, but kind of as it existed in the 1962–1987 era.

I cannot learn all of this anymore at my age but what should I take up, and what should be the reasons?

I am also not sure if learning things just because you like them is not a kind of vanity. It seems all this “spare time” it takes to learn should instead be consigned to some way of making the world a better place.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

10 Answers

Inspired_2write's avatar

There are automatic translator apps for cellphones that travelers use all the time..several languages.

MrGrimm888's avatar

In America, it would be wise to learn some Spanish. It’s not that different from English. Plus, the Latino population, is fast growing.
Latin, would be great, as most western languages originated from it. But. It isn’t widely spoken.
Plus. Always remember that knowledge, is power.
There are many places, where Spanish, is the main language, in America. Ever been to Miami?..

Communication, is key, in many cases.

janbb's avatar

I studied French again recently. Mainly for the brain stimulation.

ragingloli's avatar

You should learn German, because we will rise again, soon.

JLeslie's avatar

When you say couldn’t learn do you mean you have trouble learning languages? Or, it wasn’t offered?

I feel like knowing a second language helps people understand how things get lost in translation. Knowing Spanish, when I speak to a native Spanish speaker in English, I know better when they might be using an English word incorrectly. For instance, my husband often says, “I don’t care for X.” That would mean to most Americans that he doesn’t like X. What he means is he doesn’t care either way it can be X or Y and he is just as happy. Prepositions are really difficult for Spanish speakers when they translate to English.

I also know what I struggle saying correctly in Spanish, which gives me an empathy for bilingual speakers that goes beyond just being an empathetic person. It helped me even when speaking in English with native born American English speakers. Miscommunication is easier to have happen than most people realize even when speaking your own language.

Knowing another language also sometimes helps better understand the culture of the people speaking the language. It takes time to get to that point. Time interacting and being more immersed.

There is a magical moment where a second language stops being a struggle of constant translating in your brain and you can simply think in the other language. It’s not like all at once you just know everything in the other language, but many basic things become just as easy to say and understand like your first language.

Spanish in America is very useful. If you studied it a little and started paying attention to signs around you that use both languages, like at Lowe’s for instance, you would start to have the language become a part of your language knowledge without thinking about it. Where you live isn’t very bilingual like some places, so not as easy to have the language reinforced in daily life.

Yiddish is very funny and entertaining in my opinion.

I wish I knew German, because I interact with so many people in Germany for my work and receive bills and communications in German.

longgone's avatar

One reason is broadening your perspective. Languages might have words for concepts that don’t exist in your mother tongue, or ways to express states of being with grammatical tricks foreign to you.

Another reason might be access to a whole lot of information/media. I’m often frustrated by trying to find some good sources in English, and happy to switch to German – and vice versa. This goes for online articles, but also books and movies that are just more fun in their original versions.

Jeruba's avatar

It changes the way you think about things. You can’t absorb a language without getting into the culture to some degree. You discover that your way is not the only way to look at life, the universe, and everything.

It also deepens your understanding of your own language.

And it’s a bridge to other people. We need more of those.

To me, the key principle of language, all language, is relationship. The better the grasp we have of relationship on any scale, the better we can deal with the thousand things.


> I am also not sure if learning things just because you like them is not a kind of vanity.

I can see how you might regard learning for the pleasure of it as self-indulgent, but I believe there’s no better reason. Learning for practical purposes may be necessary, but learning for its own sake is a beautiful thing.

I also happen to believe that nothing you learn is ever wasted. There’s no such thing as useless knowledge. Consider Indra’s net, a metaphorical web of jewels each of which reflects all the others.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Learning a language helps you understand that there are many ways to accomplish the same communication goal. And some methods are definitely better than what we’re used to.
For example:
I figure Korean Hangul is the best alphabet/character set of anything I’ve ever seen. It is so simple and powerful. You can learn it iin a day or two and can write anything flexible.
Want to write English with a Southern drawl? Hangul. Switch it up and write in a New York Italian accent? Hangul. Yiddish? No problem. The character set even has room for expansion if you want to add something as yet invented. How about Click language?

I recently watched the series Ramy about a 30 year old, Muslim Egyptian ex-pat living in NJ with his parents and sister. They had the credits in both English and Arabic – obviously just a bunch of meaningless scribbles by some uneducated rag heads. (Relax, I am being facetious!) That show inspired me to spend the time to learn to read Arabic. I am not an expert but I do understand the mechanics now. Which is infinitely more than I knew before I started watching the show. Now I get it.
The biggest help by the way was watching lessons on youtube.
Will I ever converse in writing with someone fluent in Arabic? Probably not. But I learned a lot and maybe that exercise stretched my brain a little and pushed back the onset of dementia a few weeks.
I took Spanish in high school,,German in college, and Japanese while working there. I really enjoy seeing how other cultures arrive at their communication solutions. They are so different
But, there is one common thread… they all think their way is the best. I love it!

janbb's avatar

@LuckyGuy What service i Ramy on?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@janbb It is on Hulu. I use another person’s account.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther