Jain: How a new language can change your world

Nikhita Jain, Staff Writer

“A different language is a different vision of life.”

In a few words, this quote effectively embodies the inherent power of language and how it is truly a gift to learn one. However, those who attended high school in the United States’ probably think differently. Presumably, your minds immediately wander to those burdensome moments in a language class, forced to learn various numbers and phrases in a language you probably had no interest in and likely already forgot. High school ruins learning a new language by turning it into an unenjoyable and insufferable task, but there is more to it in reality. It is the gateway to new opportunities, a new perspective on the world and a new way of living. Language classes in high school often fail to make us see the benefits, which is why I am writing to showcase just how beneficial learning a new language can be. 

Firstly, language can open our world to different people, cultures and viewpoints. Language is often the barrier preventing us from interacting and connecting with a broader range of people since we lack the means to communicate with more people. 

This barrier is something I have struggled with personally. Being from an Indian background, most of my family speaks Hindi—a common Indian language. When I was young, I used to speak Hindi; however, the more I was surrounded by English as I grew up, I quickly lost my ability to speak Hindi, and English became my primary language. While I can still understand Hindi, I can barely speak it. Because of this, when I visit my grandparents and relatives in India, I can barely interact and connect with them, which saddens me and sometimes leaves me feeling like an outsider. My experience with Hindi has allowed me to realize just how important language is. Language is what unites people and bridges the gap between them. Thus, I have now been trying to regain my ability to speak Hindi, so that the next time I visit my relatives in India, I can finally talk with them on the native level and deepen our relationship.

By connecting with people through language, you can also learn from them and their differing perspectives on the world, directly affecting your outlook. Hence, learning a new language is tantamount to developing a new way of thinking.

Language not only opens the door to new people and cultures, but also to foreign media and entertainment. With learning a language, you have the ability to comprehend and enjoy new music, movies and dramas from other countries. Consuming foreign media also allows you to learn more about different cultures and experience part of a foreign country.

Learning a new language also enables you to gain more insight into your own language and culture and perhaps develop a greater appreciation for it. When we explore new languages and cultures, we instinctively draw parallels to what is already known. This is something I find myself doing all the time. For instance, as I have been relearning Hindi, I have been consuming more Indian media, such as Bollywood movies I watched when I was younger. I noticed how those movies seemed more theatrical and boisterous compared to Hollywood movies, which I found to be very fascinating. 

Another benefit to knowing multiple languages—which is probably widely recognized—is undoubtedly the advantage in the professional world. It can grant you access to more career opportunities. Specifically, now that our country is becoming increasingly globalized and diverse, the demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. 

Furthermore, learning a new language raises your confidence by pushing you outside your comfort zone. Without a doubt, when initially learning a new language, you will likely make mistakes and perhaps make a fool of yourself. But that is okay because it is all a part of the learning process. 

Most language learners can affirm that learning a language is not easy, and you will definitely encounter roadblocks along the way. However, it will all be worth it in the end. 

Learning a new language is not simply just remembering words and phrases, but instead, it is discovering a world and existence outside your own. As such, I hope you will give language learning a try and realize for yourself the true value of language.