the danger of speaking only one language


LingQ Writing Contest submission by charles_smyth

The Danger of Speaking Only One Language

Learning another language is considered to be worthwhile for professional, emergency, social and cultural purposes. Whilst all these reasons are sound enough, it should also be realised that knowledge of other languages provides the language learner with a greater level of freedom, via access to information that may be vitally enlightening, but is not available in their own language. Italians, Greeks and Spaniards, for example, many of whom have no knowledge of English, cannot access many lines of information that would enlighten them about better economic ideas. Which leaves them held hostage to whatever information is available to them in their own language. Similarly, those who know English, but have no knowledge of German, are unable to judge the criticism and/or merits of the likes of Thilo Sarrazin or Roland Koch, and must rely too heavily on second hand, and too often, deliberately biased reporting. For now, English is the international language. But it does not follow that innovation in China, for example, will not disappear behind the Mandarin wall, so that the Chinese and those who have a knowledge of Mandarin, have a comparative advantage. Therefore, in a globalized, competitive world, it is a good idea to not be monolingual. 


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