Parli un’ altra Lingua

According to, there are approximately 375 million people in the world who speak English as a first language, and about 750 million people that speak English as a foreign language.With these statistics, one may wonder, why bother to learn another language at all? However, after asking a number of both professors and students, the benefits to learning a language are numerous.Some affirm that the reason for studying a language is rooted in the joy of learning the language itself. “Languages are, in my opinion, the most fascinating thing a person can study,” said sophomore Matthew Greene.”It is truly retraining your mind to function in a system outside of your own personal norm, to understand different patterns of thinking, different ways of perceiving the world.” “We learn languages and love them for some of the same reasons we love and study art, music, literature, the human mind, the world of math, of space, the workings of cell structures: for the love of learning,” said UVM Italian Professor Cristina Mazzoni. “Learning and understanding are part of what makes us who we are.” Others say that the knowledge of foreign languages is important in today’s society. Due to globalization and the great number of languages that are spoken in the United States, learning other languages can only be beneficial. “Our nation itself continues to draw enormous vitality from the influx of new Americans from other parts of the world, many of whose native tongues are languages other than English,” said President Daniel Mark Fogel. “For about 20 percent of the American population, English is not the language spoken at home. For all of these reasons, and many others, the ability to negotiate more than a single language is a basic component of cultural competence,” he said.With the current expansion of the job market into different countries, many employers look for students that speak multiple languages. Learning a foreign language makes it easier for some students to get jobs after graduation.”Many companies do business abroad, and many services for people here in the United States (medicine is a prime example) are more effectively administered when offered in the language of the client,” said French Professor Meaghan Emery.”Here, in Vermont, for instance, the commercial ties with Quebec make French quite attractive to employers,” she said. Emery also said that she encourages students to study abroad because it is the best way to learn a language. “Language is intrinsically linked to culture. Its particularities grow from a specific culture and, therefore, it is the most authentic expression of this culture. “As a result, there exist words and phrases that are not translatable from one language to another. Another consequence of this is the fact that there is no better way to learn a language than to be immersed in the culture. Although languages such as Spanish and Chinese are mostly prevalent in the United States, it’s also important to study lesser know languages such as German and Russian. There are a wide variety of languages that are useful for Americans to know, Fogel said. “There are languages that are important to the propagation of science and technology such as Russian, German, French, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, languages widely spoken in the U.S. such as Spanish, languages important to understanding key challenges facing the nation such as Arabic, Russian, and languages important for Americans who have in effect informal ambassadorial roles because they are living or traveling abroad.”Ultimately, sophomre Cait Hoffmann believes that studying foreign languages is not just about its global importance but because it’s enjoyable. “I think that [languages] are interesting and fun. Nothing makes me happier than being able to say ‘I love you’ in six different languages.”