The New York Times has a great package up right now about the ongoing debate over the importance of learning a second language. As a Spanish major and a language lover in general, this is an issue close to my heart and I’ve been working my way through the series over the past couple of days. Check it out here.
One of my favorite parts was Anthony Jackson’s piece “Language is More Than Speaking,” especially this phrase:
“[Language] is the palette from which we draw all the colors of our life, and people who speak multiple languages have a larger palette and richer set of colors to draw from than those who are monolingual.”
As somebody who (finally) feels comfortable calling myself bilingual, I connected with that 100 percent. Speaking Spanish has made me a better writer and communicator even in English. Learning a second language has been like steroids for my brain.
The more I dig into Spanish, the more I become aware of both its limits and its breadth. There are things you can express in English that just don’t translate in any graceful way to Spanish, but there are just as many turns of phrases in Spanish that don’t quite fit into English. (One of my favorite Spanish words is entrañable, which means–roughly–“in your blood and guts.”) And the more I learn, the more I’m convinced that learning a second language really does give you a boost, not only in of itself, but also as a amazing addition to your cognitive toolkit.
Click here to read the New York Times series on second language education.