The pleasure of learning languages
by Carlos Carrion Torres - Vitoria ES - Brazil
Advantages of English
Nowadays at the beginning of 21st century, in media and computer era,
being a native English speaker presents a bunch of obvious advantages.
Those who grow up speaking English can be understood almost everywhere in
the world among scholars and educated people. English is world media language,
the speech of cinema, TV shows, pop music and computers. It is also the most
important language for politics, sports, science and newspapers. Everywhere
in civilized world people must to know the pronunciation of many English words,
names of places and people, titles of songs and so on. The use of English language
so is widely spread all over the world that nobody can deny that English is
the true Esperanto, the actual Universal Language.
However, there are, inspite of and also as a consequence of the dominance of
English, some other quite opposite advantages to people whose mother tongue
is not English. Anyone, especially scholars, whose native language is not
English must learn at least a little English to be connected with the world.
That necessity, as any need for learning, is indeed a challenge and so an
intellectual advantage. Learning English can be the start of the opening of
people's minds to the importance and also the pleasure of foreign language
The advantages that result for this almost primary necessity (learning
English) are still greater when one's mother tongue doesn't have Germanic roots.
As a result of fewer similarities between languages, efforts to learn English
represent greater challenges, increasing intelectual curiosity, providing more
pleasure in the discovery of new concepts and ideas. Thinking that way, having
a native language that without Indo-European roots can be still better, because
when people learn English they must go beyond the limits of they strict concepts
of grammar, sentences structure, sounds, pronunciation, direction of writing,
declensions, syllabic concepts, verbs conjugation, plurals and so on.
Those whose a mother tongue that uses an alphabet other than Latin enjoy
yet greater advantages. To use computers, to connect to internet addresses,
to send email, one needs to know the Latin alphabet. Latin characters are always
present, even together with other alphabets, in most computer and cell phone
keyboards around the world. All internet sites and email addresses currently
use only the Latin alphabet. This forces educated people who use computers to
have at least a little knowledge of the Latin alphabet. People who must learn
another alphabet go beyond the sounds of their mother tongue. Such person will
realize, for example, that there are some sounds that may be represented by
different, unfamiliar letters.
Even considering that most of the words in European languages with either
simple or sophisticated meanings, are monosyllabic or bisyllabic, there is
some pattern that confirms that nouns for well known things are generally
I myself felt the advantages discussed above when I started trying to learn
a little Russian. We, Brazilians, Portuguese speakers, learn English from
elementary school, of course, and later sometimes Spanish and French. However,
learning those three languages keeps us still inside the limits of very similar
languages - plurals with "s" and similar sentences structure. Then, when we decide
to learn something about Italian and German, we can realize that there are plurals
without the use of "s", a surprise!
Study of Latin teaches us about declensions, but Russian, also with declensions
and "no s" plurals, but with a different, Cyrillic, alphabet, represented to me
the greatest impact. First, Russian has 10 vowels. OK, it is acceptable, those
10 vowels are the same as ours plus some diphthongs with "i". But they do have
26 consonants! Yes, it was a surprise for me to realize that they may need and
use 6 consonants more than we do. And in that case I was dealing with an alphabet
that is very similar to ours, if compared with most of Asian alphabets, as examples.
By that time I have realized how people's minds could get opened by learning
languages that use other very different alphabet like Chinese, Hindi, Japanese,
Thai, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew and others.
Of course, there are other reasons to stimulate languages learning, as, for
example, geography. People in large countries or areas with one main sole language,
as Brazil, USA, China, European Russia, the whole of Spanish speaking countries
in Latin America, are less stimulated to know other languages. But in European and
Asian countries with not so large areas, with many neighbor nations with different
languages it is quite an urgent necessity to learn other languages.
To summarize, to non-English speakers the almost universal necessity of English
learning, is a leading advantage, because it stimulates scholars to learn at least
that foreign language. That may stimulate them to learn another, then maybe another
and so on. The pleasure of learning languages is something helps persons to open
their minds to languages diversity and so to diversity in general
Articles by Carlos Carrion Torres
Comparação Português e Castelhano
English as a Universal Language
Língua Estrangeira para Lusófonos
Short words, basic ideas
The pleasure of learning languages