Personally, I always bathed in a multicultural environment. Not because my parents are from different backgrounds; both are Breton, I am Breton myself born and raised, I studied in Brittany, and now work there. Not really multicultural. However, my mother is an English teacher, so when I was little, we would spend most of our holidays in England. So I have more or less learnt English while growing up immersed in the British culture. But, you’ll say, but you know Marie, being bilingual doesn’t mean that you are close-minded! And speaking seven languages doesn’t make you open-minded!
Yes, you are absolutely right. Hence why I said CAN, not that they make us more open-minded. Am I playing with words? Yes, totally. Ah, languages are incredible, are they not? And to prove my point, here are 3 reasons why languages can help you become more open-minded.
Languages give us the keys to understand a new culture
Languages and cultures are Les langues et les cultures sont intrinsically linked. After all, what are languages used for, if not to communicate? To bring people together? So of course, you can watch dubbed movies and series, or with subtitles, or read translated books, listen to music without listening to the lyrics… But some jokes, puns, innuendos are lost in translation. Some books are never translated, some texts are hard to translate, such as poetry, and it’s actually quite nice to understand what you sing. THat reminds me of that one time when we translated lyrics from Rammstein in German class. And tell me, what does Ich tu dir weh mean ? Oh ? Oh okay. Oh well.
Okay, it goes beyond that, languages allow you to speak with native people, share and talk about their experiences, their cultures as it is to them. Obviously, that can be done in any common language, without it being your interlocutor’s mother tongue. But to really incorporate all the little subtleties of a culture, you need to communicate in the language of said culture. You will see, once you made that effort, all will seem clearer, such as History for example. Which goes to show that you don’t need to travel physically to enjoy the beauty of a place.
They offer us new opportunities
Of course, those opportunities come in different shapes. They can be meeting opportunities, travel opportunities… No, really, I swear. If I hadn’t studied Chinese for two years in College, I probably would have never been to China. And I would have never met people who were part of this trip. I would have never been part of this journey had I not chosen to learn a new language at this time of my life.
Naturally, the opportunity which you are probably thinking about right now is the professional opportunity. And you’d be right to do so, languages are, in certain fields, important, if not determining factors. However, I hope you will agree with me when I say that speaking English is no longer a way to set oneself apart. It’s best to master other foreign languages, several even. But those efforts can bring amazing opportunities: get the job you’ve always wanted, of course, but also go work abroad if you wish to, and be able to integrate a multicultural team. And if working in a multicultural environment is not a proof of open-mindedness, I don’t know what is!
Transform your travel experience
Okay, it’s kind of the magic combo of the two first points. One, you have more opportunities to travel. Perhaps it has been your wish all along, sure, but are there countries in which you’ve never thought to go? Be an adventurer! Go for it! Thank to your knowledge in a language, even if it is not perfect, you’ll be able to say some words, incorporate the culture, talk with local people. You are not only a visitor who would love a pretty pic to impress their followers, you really want to understand a culture, the History of a country.
Maybe you’ll even make some friends! You know, if you want to meet people near you during your trips, to practice the language for example, or share experiences, why not go on Leeve? You will be put in touch with people who share you interests, and that way improving, and opening your mind!
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