One of the most fascinating aspects of learning a new language is how it lets you see how people live in other countries and other cultures.
When you speak just the one language and spend almost all of your life in one single country it is easy to see the world as one homogenous unit. This is a perception which has been heightened in recent times thanks to global marketing techniques and the prevalence of certain cultures and languages throughout the world.
However, it is not the case that these trends have killed off indigenous cultures in other parts of the world. Many millions of people all across the globe may drink Coca Cola and watch The Simpsons but once you begin to learn their language you will find that for all the superficial similarities there are still vast differences between the different cultures.
It is easy to forget that this coming together of cultures has been fairly recent, and while there is the threat of globalization causing damage to some of the more vulnerable cultures, we are still in the right time to enjoy the wonderful and varied world which we live in.
As an example of this we only have to look at a UK tourist who decides to travel on holiday to China. While it may not be quite the same mysterious, semi mythical country which it once was there is no doubt that they will still feel very far from home once they get there, regardless of whether they watch the BBC in their hotel room or not.
If we go back to look at the initial learning of the language, it soon becomes evident after just a few lessons that different people look at the world differently. There are the famous examples of languages which contain a huge number of words to describe an item which is important to the native speakers but on a more basic level this is true too. If our UK tourist decides to learn Chinese, London classes might be a good bet but they need to make the switch to thinking like someone in China quite early on in the process.
The same applies to all the languages spoken in the world today and this gives us some hope that if more people were to speak a foreign language perhaps there would be more mutual understanding in the world. This may seem a naïve point of view but if you can imagine that while starting to learn Arabic, London residents began to appreciate more of the Arabic culture then this would surely be a good starting point for them to get a better global understanding.
This featured article was submitted by Ivana Vitali, an Edudemic Guest Author. You can e-mail her here.