OPINION: The significance of learning a language and culture

In our culturally diverse and technologically connected world, we all will encounter other people whose identities are completely different than our own. The best thing to do to understand others and how they live is to learn their language. Learning a new language isn’t something significantly crucial to everyone in their daily lives however, I still feel learning a new language has importance to us and to the culture it exemplifies when it is learned.

I am currently taking a Spanish course and besides learning the language, I’ve learned how unique Hispanic culture is. This is the case with learning all languages. Imagine learning languages like Russian or Japanese; not only do both of these languages contrast in alphabet and modulation, but they also showcase different values and ethics behind the language. For instance, it is customary in Japanese to take care and respect the elders. Another example: in Germany, university tuition is free and education there is perceived as a value to increase the economic welfare of the country. To absorb languages and learn the cultures associated with them is quite a bit to take in, but they are also mentally stimulating, like stepping through the threshold to new worlds.

Another aspect I have learned from language and culture is how they are reflected back at me. Not only from what I take in, but how the language and culture impacts my life. First, there is the language, which I am trying to memorize and put in use. Second, there the culture which influences me to try and make some of the people’s traditional dishes (such as tamales), make some of their crafts (such as pinatas and papel picados), and understand their customs and holidays (such as Dia de los Muertos). Researching and participating in activities such as these in any culture shows the similarities and differences between that culture and your own. Even though people are so different from one another, languages let us learn from one another.