The power of language

Connecting and empowering; Learning one word at a time

Photo Illustration / Puja Thapa / Business Manager and Laura Romaniello / Art Director

If everyone spoke the same language it would be easier, but would it necessarily be for the better?

According to ethnologue.com, there are currently 7,097 languages across the world. The Linguistic Society of America said some languages become extinct and sometimes they can come back, like Hebrew for example. There are many languages spread out across the world but some have many more speakers than others. Ethnologue.com goes on to say, “This is a fragile time: Roughly a third of languages are now endangered, often with less than 1,000 speakers remaining. Meanwhile, just 23 languages account for more than half the world’s population.” The site then goes on to define “endangered” languages: “That is, loss of all individuals who continue to identify the language as being related to their identity.”

Language is part of a person. It can mean a lot to someone especially if it is their native language or first and only language. Imagine if one day everyone was no longer allowed to speak their first language? It would be extraordinarily hard, especially if there’s only one language under our belt.

Learning another language could help in so many ways. If a person was brought up in a family that has a parent who was born in another country; this can be a great help. Living with a parent who is constantly speaking a second language around a child is a great way for them to learn the language.

The Huffington Post wrote in an article titled, “Is it actually harder to learn a language when you’re older.” They wrote, “According to Dr. Mahboob, the real obstacle is understanding your motivation and what you want to achieve. ‘People have this belief that it is challenging and daunting when you are an adult. What it comes down to is your level of investment in learning that language,’ he said.” Taking the time to learn another language can be so beneficial for a person and especially a student.

In another Huffington Post titled, “You mind on language: How bilingualism boosts your brain” Dan Roitman wrote, “Learning a second language is like a workout for your mind. The benefits of bilingualism, from increased creativity to the delayed onset of Alzheimer’s, should encourage everyone to pick up a second – or third! – language.” Learning a new language doesn’t only mean a smarter and healthier brain. Being bilingual opens new doors and connections that someone only knowing one language would have much more difficulty finding.

Sometimes people take their language for granted. What if someone that doesn’t speak the more commonly spoken language in a country and needs help or is in an emergency situation? How can someone help if they don’t know how to communicate with that other person?

Members of society should learn a language for not only their personal benefit, but for others. Learning another language can lead to new friendships and experiences. Being able to go up to someone and talk to them in another language can be a really special interaction.

At Keene State College we have a very diverse group of students; not all of whom speak (just) English. In many ways learning a new language, sign language for example, can help connect students of different abilities, and it can mean all the world for these students to have that friendship they didn’t have before. Words are impactful, and students need to see their purpose. Words and languages bring people together; benefiting society as a whole including students who choose to study abroad.

Studying abroad can be so much more culturally enriching if a student knows the native spoken language in that country. Even just knowing a couple of words or phrases and being respectful of their home culture can make a difference. Members of said culture can see that we’re putting in effort to communicate with them and be part of their way of life.

Growing up in a family that speaks a second language is key. But unfortunately, that isn’t everyone’s case. Most high schools and middle schools in the country has students take a language class. Also there are many other resources someone can go to if they really would like to try to learn a new language. Sign up for a class here at KSC even if it is not mandatory for a specific major. Studying abroad can help students get a feel for a more modern “everyday talk.” Also there are many online websites or personal assistants that can make learning a language on your own less difficult.

Learning a language can be so beneficial personally and culturally. As students in a more globalized world than ever, look into learning a new language and get studying! Goodbye! Adiós! Aloha! Ciao! Arrivederci!