Opening the door to other cultures

Learning a foreign languages provides academic benefits while connecting people from around the world.

When traveling to a new country, there is excitement surrounding the scenery, food, a new culture and the friendly locals. But when faced with a common task of simply asking directions to a restaurant there is a major barrier- language. This problem could be easily solved by learning a foreign language in high school.

Tristen Mielke

Learning multiple language provides a better academic performance by strengthening brain power and improving one’s first language. Most importantly, learning another language helps people better understand and develop an appreciation for other cultures and it ultimately provides a link to unite different people all over the world.

According to, 43 percent of the world population are bilingual. Having the asset of knowing more than one language gives these people an advantage because they are improving their minds and gaining a greater appreciation for the many cultures and people around the globe.

Spanish and Theory of Knowledge teacher, George Cou, is fluent in two languages, Spanish and English. Throughout his life he has found being bilingual extremely useful and encourages all students to learn a second language.

“People should learn a second language because most people don’t realize that the more languages you speak, it helps with retention, and not only that, your vocabulary expands and you have recourses that you wouldn’t have if you only know one language,” said Cou.

When learning a second language, people are essentially giving their brain a “good workout” because the process of understanding and practicing a new language is one of brain’s most strenuous activities. The website Be Brain Fit states that this brain workout helps people have improved listening skills, sharper memories, and a greater cognitive ability.

Studying other languages can have its challenges. When learning a foreign language at school, it can be difficult to improve one’s speaking, listening, and writing abilities in one’s home country. The best solution to this is to fully immerse oneself into the culture and traditions of another country, which allows people to practice the language.

“If you are learning a second language you have to try and embrace a variety of different things, actually sit down and listen to it,” Cou said. “Try to speak it with people, try to find all the different ways that you can to immerse yourself into the language.”

As people become more familiar with other cultures through learning foreign languages, they are forming connections with people from all over the world. Language is essentially our gateway to understanding and communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds.

“By learning a second language you are learning about that culture and about people, which gets you the appreciation for the world and the things around you,” Cou said.