Foreign Languages Are Really Really Cool


Photo Credit: Ahn Nguyen ’17

It is simply a fact that being fluent in more than one language will help you in life. Before I dive into my very pro-language argument, I’ll recap my language education. As most kids did, I learned Spanish in elementary school. Then, I had a brief stint with Dutch in fifth grade. Eventually, I switched to French in sixth grade and added Chinese in seventh grade; as a sophomore I still take both. My French and Chinese classes are easily my favorite ones.

Other than the obvious benefits to learning a foreign language- communication, job opportunities, and travel, there are also other subtle yet very significant gains from knowing foreign languages. Madame Giannamore put it nicely, saying, “It’s not just learning a foreign language, it’s learning another vision of the world.” She went on to mention, “To me the main idea is instilling in young minds that the world is not just one color and there is more than one vision of the world, and you learn that through foreign language. It’s not just the language, it’s the culture, it’s the mindset that is underlined in the language.” Through learning French and Chinese, I can say that I do view the world differently. I have found that the self I am while speaking French, speaking Chinese, and speaking English is a slightly different person. Through learning whatever language, you learn so much about different cultures and the values of different people. Just an example that always comes to my mind is how in Chinese there are different words for each family member depending on if they are older or younger and maternal or paternal. Such specificity reveals how important family is in the Chinese culture. In French, the fluidity of speaking (which I wholly lack) mimics the more laid back, enjoying-life vibe that seems to be innate in French people. Ms. Nisselson encompassed this overall thought, saying, “Learning about a target language and culture is a lens to reflect on your own identity.”

There are so many students at Loomis who already know two or three or even more languages, and I’m jealous of them. There are students in my French class who speak Chinese and Spanish, and I find myself aspiring to be like them. These students (international or domestic), who are certainly not limited to just my French class, already have an advantage coming to Loomis being able to speak more than one language. To start, speaking two (or more) languages is so cool! Furthermore, Madame Giannamore and I agree that the more languages you know the easier it is to learn another. That is, coming to Loomis knowing multiple languages means that learning a language at Loomis will be easier compared to the experience of monolingual students. And this isn’t an attack towards monolingual students; it isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault that a lot of us here only speak one language, but this does mean that we should take this opportunity to strive towards competence in a foreign language.

In her conversation with me, Madame Giannamore also alluded to the early overspecialization that is present in today’s world. There is of course a wall of course requirements that many students hit, but don’t just stop learning because you’ve reached level three and think that you won’t need to know a language just because you’re set to become engineer or surgeon. Learning a language is a wonderful opportunity; don’t miss out on it.