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Why New Languages Are Worth Learning

By: Francisco Montalvo

Language is what shapes our reality. From the moment we are able to speak, we attach labels to feelings, objects, and activities in our native tongue. But have you ever stopped to think about how those labels vary by language?

Culture is not expressed only through actions, but by language as well. What makes them so unique (in addition to the sounds and characters) is the vocabulary. It is what alters our perceptions, enables us to share our experiences, and ties us to the places we come from.

Unique vocabulary helps us to tell the story of a culture. Entire experiences can be captured in one word for some, but not others. They may relate familiar feelings, or something entirely new. When we learn a language, we are not only studying a method of communication. We are studying culture.

My personal favorite example of this is the German word "schadenfreude" which in English roughly translates to, "experiencing joy from the misfortune of others." You know the feeling when you see someone trip and fall in classic slapstick fashion and you smile holding back laughter to seem a little empathetic? Well that's schadenfreude.

Not to say that this feeling is unique to the German experience or that they are particularly cold people, but how cool is it that they have a word to express that feeling! This is just one example among countless others that could help you to expand the way you experience the world.

I encourage anyone (whether you plan to travel abroad soon or not) to try and learn a new language. It can be incredibly fun and fulfilling to learn to experience the world in a whole new way. Happy learning!

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