Monday, November 9, 2015

Your Language is NOT Useless

I’ve been learning French since I was a sophomore in high school, and I used to teach it at the high school level. I use it every week to talk to the mom of the 4th grader I tutor. Without it, I would’ve gone insane in college.

So, if you ever want to see me all riled up, please announce that French is a useless language*. Go on. I dare you. It would give me permission to inform you of your utter wrongness.

French is one of the six working languages of the United Nations. It’s one of only three languages used in the European Union, and it is the only language spoken during deliberations at the Court of Justice of the European Union. It’s the official language of the Olympics, NATO, ILO, and UNICEF. (
Many other languages can be useful for your career and for travel, but French is one of the few internationally used languages. All multilingualism is useful, helpful, and beneficial, but not every language is global. When you speak French or one or two other global languages, you have a pretty safe bet of being able to communicate with almost anyone in the international business world. If you’re a teacher, you’ll be able to better communicate with your students, no matter what grade you teach.

Here’s another reason the statement “French is useless” makes me so mad:
The world is filled with thousands of different languages. I think it’s easy for people to forget that their home language (especially if it’s English and you’re American) isn’t the same home language as everyone else. No language is useless. Even if it’s not spoken globally, speaking another language stretches you into being a better person. It is endless exposure to a new way of thinking – it gives you a new perspective on everything that happens around you (The Guardian). Those who are multilingual are more logical, quicker to understand and solve problems, and able to juggle several tasks at once (

Sadly, there are many people who think multilingualism is great for other people, but that they and their kids shouldn’t have to deal with it. Thinking like that leads to the death of language and culture. Language is inextricably linked to culture, and if you want to speak well, you talk to native speakers. You grow to understand the depth and breadth of a different group of people.  When you tell people that a language is useless, you hurt us all. Detrimental ideas like that are part of the reason so many languages die out every year. The fewer languages we have, the fewer mirrors we have to look at society (National Geographic). 

I will forever maintain that if you are interested in learning something, it is useful. Learning to communicate with another person is never a waste of time.

Michelle suddenly feels lazy for only speaking two languages…time to go learn another!

*Proving the "Don't make a blogger mad" theory... an acquaintance ACTUALLY SAID THIS TO MY FACE over the weekend.

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