Should Children Learn Foreign Languages?

Occasionally, one may come across those untranslatable words that are unique to a language. Kilig is the Filipino word for romantic butterflies in your stomach. Wabi-sabi is Japanese for finding beauty in imperfections. It’s these little quirks that shape the culture of a nation and make the world so beautifully diverse. Thousands of languages exist today, and yet only a little over than half of the worldwide population can speak a language other than their mother tongue. Is there anything inherently wrong with this? No. But when you take a look at history, people refuse to listen to what they do not understand. It’s no question racial intolerance is still very evident no matter where you go.

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One thing that stemmed from colonialism is the mentality that only big business languages such as English will get a person anywhere in life. If your language is at the bottom of the chain, you’re called primitive, uneducated, and dumb, and there is no future where you could possibly be successful. And yes, “English Only” policies actually exist in some places, most especially schools. This only makes people become ashamed of their native language.

But all this can be changed, and it starts with every single one of us: We must teach the next generation what it means to embrace differences. Go and let your children learn a foreign language; teach them your native tongue even. Not only will it teach them the diligence and patience required to learn something as huge as that, but they will, even in a small way, be more appreciative of the outside world. It won’t seem as “foreign” to them as it was before.

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