Connecting People Through Language

It doesn’t take a genius to know the importance of communication, connection and understanding. Language connects people and often goes beyond a simple means of communicating with one another. Language is intrinsically linked with our society and our species as a whole and is influenced by a wide range of factors beyond just vocabulary, syntax or grammar, notably our different environments, identities, cultures, histories and philosophies.

Language is a means of understanding who exactly we are and what our place in the world is. It not only has the power to connect people, break down barriers and bring communities together, but it can also divide communities, create barriers and disconnect people from one another. There are over 7000 languages that exist in the world today, with the top three most spoken languages respectively being English, with over 1,121 million speakers, Mandarin Chinese, with over 1,107 million speakers and Hindi with over 698 million speakers. If that alone does not convince you of the importance of learning foreign languages or expanding your language skills, there are innumerable benefits to doing so, some of which I will list below.

When you learn to speak a different language, you learn to see a bigger world. Language informs the way we experience everything; from the way, we perceive our lives to the way we behave. This is because learning a language goes beyond learning vocabulary and grammar, it gives you countless and invaluable insights into another country’s culture, history, ideas, and perspectives. Speaking a second language or even a third gives you new, unique and amazing perspectives to see the world, leading to more enriching life experiences.

Language is intrinsically tied to our identity and history as humans. For so many people, language represents a significant part of who they are, and why they are who they are. With many long-standing languages being built and expanded on for centuries, they represent the connections people have with their people, their ancestors and their deep-rooted cultures. Not only will learning new languages allow you to communicate and connect with others, but will also allow you to deepen your bonds and relationships.

Multilingualism fosters a deeper understanding of different cultures, in all their uniqueness, similarities and beauty. A quote from Nelson Mandela that has resonated with many throughout the ages is: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” No matter how you personally interpret this quote, the beauty of it is just like the beauty of language and our differences. There is much beauty in sharing our languages; sharing our own beautiful, unique perspectives.

Connecting, sharing and communicating with others are all fundamental aspects of creating and maintaining meaningful relationships with others. On a primary level, this is what makes studying another language important. When you are able to understand another person’s language, you are able to bridge the gap in communication, reflecting a willingness to learn and welcome another person’s culture, identity and philosophies. Language is truly at the heart of our ability to not only communicate with others but to understand and be understood. It’s how we share our thoughts, feelings, ideas, histories, cultures and knowledge. So maybe, it is time for you to learn and expand your language skills and lead a more enriching life.