From broader opportunities for travelling to increasing opportunities for collaboration, there are many reasons why people should learn languages. Here are what I consider to be the most important:
1: Learning languages promotes cultural understanding and tolerance
Charlemagne wrote that to 'have another language is to possess a second soul.' By learning another language you are not only learning to communicate, but also getting to know another culture. In doing so, you gain a new perspective of the world and this, in turn, breaks down barriers. This is particularly important at a time when the UK is pulling out of Europe and the US President speaks of 'building a wall' on the Mexican border.
Globalisation means that the world is becoming increasingly smaller and interconnected. Having employees who speak other languages opens up the possibility of new markets for employers, as well as improving communication and removing cultural barriers. According to the Intelligence Unit at The Economist, 90% of executives in 68 countries say cross-cultural management is their biggest challenge. 70% of international ventures fail because of cultural differences. The first year expenses for moving an employee overseas is $700,000. 71% of employers want college graduates to be interculturally competent.
3. It improves your cognitive abilities
Learning languages improves your ability to listen to others, as well as training your memory in acquiring vocabulary and applying grammar rules. Studies have shown that speakers of several languages also have a higher attention span and are better are solving problems, such as being forced to work out new vocabulary based on context. It therefore allows you to acquire useful life skills.
4. Languages give people the opportunity to travel around the world
Ludwig Wittgenstein said that the 'limits of your language are the limits of your world.' In the context of travelling, this is certainly true, since it makes travelling abroad far easier if you can communicate with locals. From ordering the right coffee to knowing what you are ordering from a restaurant menu, speaking even a little of the local language can make travelling a more enjoyable experience.