“I’m not quite convinced I should learn a second language”

Why should I learn a second language?

In this section, I speak from my experiences in Singapore.

With English gaining dominance in Singapore, eclipsing the other languages, Singapore risks becoming a monolingual society. The immediate question is: “So what?”

There are two answers to this. The first is that we should care because not everyone knows English. The second is that we should care because these languages make us more human.

Not everyone knows English well

Not everyone knows English, and among those that do, not everyone knows English well. People might migrate from overseas, or they might not mainly speak English at home.

You might wonder why people don’t just learn English, especially when there’s such a big economic advantage in knowing English well. To answer this, I encourage you to dive deeper into a second language and try to master that language as well as your first language. I guarantee that after a short period of time, you’ll find that it is harder than it looks. Linguistic differences means that sentence construction might differ. Even if you master sentence construction, listening and speaking at native levels will take time, and not everyone has time.

There’s also the problem of not knowing how to learn a language in the first place. People might struggle initially and be disheartened, or may think of themselves stupid and unable to learn a different language. This website is trying to change that (See [[How do I start learning a language]] and [[I’m not sure I can learn a language by myself…]]). You can take the lead in understanding the perceived difficulties of learning a language by yourself, make that process easier, then help other people learn.

Second languages make us more human

This leads to my second point, that learning a language makes us more human. As I’ve said above, we can personally enter the struggle of learning a second language and understand how non-native speakers of English feel. But more than that, our own minds are broadened when we learn a second language. With a language comes a whole culture, culture that we can dive into when we learn their language, culture that might be hidden to us even if the language is an official one.

Learning a language allows us to communicate with other people, both living and with those who came before us, and being able to sit with someone and speak in a language that they are comfortable in is a gift that we have the opportunity to provide.