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Break The Language Barrier


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Break the language barrier

Anuradha P. Herur


Learning a foreign language is definitely an advantage in academics as well as social life

Eminent psycholinguist Frank Smith once said, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Whether for recreational purposes or for educational ones, learning another language has become a common hobby among youngsters today.

While there are institutes such as Alliance Française and the Goethe-Max Mueller Bhavan that teach French and German respectively, colleges too offer foreign languages, either as an elective course or as a compulsory subject.

Here, some students share their perspectives on whether learning a foreign language is a necessity today or pursuing it as a hobby is good enough.

Anjana Premchand, third year, B.A. Journalism and Communication, Manipal University, Bangalore Campus

Firstly, learning another language is an advantage when you travel. It is also easier to understand other cultures better through their native language. Being global citizens, we are no longer limited to one culture or language. This applies to the professional field also, with more and more people migrating to different countries to work. Learning French did not specifically improve my English. French is a bit different from English and it is hard to associate between the two beyond a certain point. It is important to continue to learn and speak the language. Learning a language has a broader scope extending beyond academics.

Nidhi Anand, second year B.A. psychology, Mount Carmel College

Learning a foreign language is definitely an advantage. We acquire a new skill. It helps us gain an understanding of the country and its culture and exposes us to foreign books and films. Also, it is a major boost to a CV. Learning a new language also helps in boosting one’s confidence and also helps in improving communication skills. It also encourages students to take up new challenges. Learning a new language does improve our English as most foreign languages are taught in English. It betters our knowledge of grammar and sentence formation. Continuing to learn the language after a basic course has been completed will help us perfect the language. So, that way, we would be thorough and will have complete knowledge of it.

Arpita Toshniwal, second year B.A. psychology, Mount Carmel College

English is not spoken in many parts of the world. Hence, it is advisable and beneficial to learn another language in order to avoid communication difficulties. By doing so, people can associate themselves with a foreign land much better.

However, learning another language has not made any noticeable difference to my spoken and written English. The rules of grammar and pronunciation are different for each language. Moreover, not every language is a derivative of another, and so chances of improvement in English are bleak. It is also important to continue learning to improve our understanding of the language further.

Aditya Ganesh, first year B.Sc Chemistry-Botany-Zoology, Christ University

A person who has knowledge of a language other than English definitely has an advantage over one who can communicate only in English, just as one who knows English has an advantage over a person who can only communicate in some other language, like French. Knowledge of another language makes communication easier.

Some ideas and concepts are also better understood in another language. However, learning another language does not improve the speaker’s knowledge of English.

All languages are independent of one another and exist on their own. My college does not offer a foreign language.

However, I believe that it is important for students to be proficient in a foreign language. It is definitely an advantage. Students who do not have the option of learning a foreign language can opt for certificate courses.

Allen Augustine, third year, B.A. Journalism and Communication, Manipal University Bangalore Campus

The advantages of learning a foreign language are very obvious, the first being travelling to a foreign country. French, like English, is a global language. Secondly, one can make a career out of knowing a foreign language.

The demand for individuals who are well versed in foreign languages is increasing day by day, not just in the teaching field but also in major businesses. I learnt French for just a year.

So, at this point I don’t feel that it helped in improving my English. Although I strongly feel that going deeper into its tools and literature will help improve my English as it has been influenced by French to a large extent, I personally feel that it is of great importance to continue learning French, or any other language for that matter.

The French that we learnt was of a very basic nature and it would be good to learn more of it.