What is the Importance of Learning a Second Language?
The easiest way to answer this question is to list the benefits and advantages to those who take the time to explore the language of a culture different than their own.
On a personal level, learning a second language takes people out of their imprinted mindset and exposes them to the mores and customs of an entirely different group of people. Their view of the world expands beyond blurbs on the nightly news and into a deeper understanding of how other people think.
While this can be difficult, the effort pays off in more than simply a new list of vocabulary words. Like a muscle being exercised, the brain is able to function better in terms of organization, memory, and expression. When someone has to express themselves in another language, it automatically improves their ability to express themselves in their native tongue.
In terms of community, learning a second language will also increase understanding and compassion for other cultures. This becomes a powerful tool in fighting stereotypes and bigotry. For example, a native English speaker who takes the time to learn some Spanish before traveling to Mexico will have more than simply a greater chance of understanding the street signs and menus. By making the effort to speak to people in their language, rather than assuming they should speak English, the traveler is validating the Mexican culture. The simple act of trying to express oneself in the other language shows a respect that is usually appreciated.
Pragmatically, with the advent of the global marketplace, having a second or even third language on a resumé is almost a requirement of the job-seeking professional. Especially in careers where clients may be anywhere on the globe, the ability to communicate with them in their own language increases both the quality of the relations and the ability of the business to meet their needs. Businesses recognize that a person with the ability to speak a second language fluently is a valuable asset. It also shows off the capacity of the aspiring job candidate to learn and assimilate complex systems of information, a talent that is sure to catch the attention of any human resources department.