The importance of learning more languages grows as communities become more diverse. Photo by Andrew Hsieh.
Fountain Valley High School

Opinion: The importance of achieving fluency in another language

Picture this: you are bored, sitting in Spanish class and don’t want to pay attention to the lesson.

But why?

There are endless applications for having fluency in a language outside of your native tongue. With the world growing ever more interconnected, you must achieve fluency in at least one other language. Here are some reasons why.

1. Being bilingual puts you ahead of career competition.

Knowing how to speak another language makes your employers want to hire you over other competitors, as not many people would dedicate time to learning and mastering another language.

Also, knowing another language allows you to be paid more since you can help twice the amount of clients that a monolingual employee would be able to.

2. You receive more knowledge about the world around you.

Through learning another language, you gain access to different cultures. These cultures contain different mannerisms and ideas than your native language.

For example, since the Korean language has various honorifics, you can assume that the social hierarchy is important in its everyday culture. Similarly, the Spanish language uses two different forms of “you.” One form is used informally and the other formally. Based on this distinction alone, you can assume that cultures that speak Spanish as their primary language value the idea of respect.

Knowing these different cultures grants you the ability to see how other people view the world, broadening your mindset.

3. You improve your memory skills.

Language learning consists of vocabulary and grammar, and achieving fluency in a language takes a lot of repetition for it to become muscle memory. When the language that you are learning becomes muscle memory, you will be able to recall any word from that language and use it naturally without any issues.

This transition from repetition to muscle memory is practical for other conceptual-based subjects, where knowing key concepts is crucial.

4. You can better connect with people outside of your native country.

When you speak a language that a person in their second language, the ideas that you communicate will only go to their mind. The person will respond to your ideas, but only because of being in the mindset of helping you.

However, when you speak to a person in their native language, there will be a lot of enthusiasm from them. The person will break their timid character and be more comfortable with you.

An excellent illustration of the latter situation would be the American YouTube personality Xiaomanyc. Xiaoma’s stellar fluency of the Mandarin language surprised native speakers and broke the language barrier between Mandarin and English. They exchanged smiles with him and opened up to more personal conversations with him as he spoke Mandarin.

So the next time you sit in your world language class sulking about how time passes slowly and how boring the class is, think of these reasons and imagine yourself accomplishing them.

You may realize that world language is not so useless but is an essential part of improving your general knowledge and communication skills.