Monday, March 31, 2014

Learn a New Language

The following is an adjusted draft of my persuasive speech for my dual credit speech class:

Minä osaan puhua Suomea. Yo puedo hablar en Español, and I also speak English. Learning to speak in a language other than your mother tongue is rewarding, and it’s a growing necessity in today’s society. So, I want to urge you to learn a new language.

I’m going to write to you about why we need to learn a language other than English, how you can learn a new language, and the benefits of doing it.

First, let me introduce you to the reasons why we need to learn a new language. Americans need to learn languages other than just their native English language. While English is a dominant language, and plenty of people around the world learn English in order to be able to interact internationally, it’s essential that Americans do their part in the culturing world.

In fact, did you know that, according to a survey taken by the European Commission, half of the EU speaks more than one language (Eurobarometer) and that the US Census Bureau reported that only about 20% of Americans are bilingual (Erand)?

We need to be learning at least one foreign language, such as Spanish for example. Whether you support it or not, the Spanish-speaking population is growing rapidly in the United States. The Texas State Data Center reports that by the year 2020, “the Texas Hispanic population is expected to outnumber the White population (TSDC).” Therefore, we need to become accustomed to at least bilingualism, especially with Spanish.

Now you may know that we should be speaking more languages, but you just can’t figure out where to begin. This brings me to my next point… You have to find your motivation and make a plan. Learning a new language will take time as well as dedication, so having the motivation and patience behind it is important.

If you have family, a friend, or a significant other, who speaks a foreign language, learn it! It will deepen your relationship and enable you to communicate better, as well as give you a better understanding of their culture. Plus, it will also demonstrate your commitment and interest in the other person.

If your work involves, or could involve, speaking with people from other countries, make it your goal to be able communicate with them as it could help you to negotiate with coworkers or customers, and help you get further in your career.

Do you love to travel? Are you planning on studying abroad? Make it a point to learn the language of the county you’re traveling to. In the end, it could be as easy as buying a book, DVD, taking an online class, or just chatting with a friend, that teaches you the new language. There are so many different ways to do it; all you need to do is pick what best suits your busy schedule.

And no matter what you decide to make your motivation and plan, the benefits of learning a language are priceless. When you learn a new language, a whole new world opens up to you, and that is just one of the benefits you get.

Anne Merritt, a Canadian EFL lecturer and international writer, in her Telegraph article titled, “Why learn a foreign language?” explains several benefits that multilingualism holds. (Merritt) According to Merritt, learning a language enhances your brain by helping you ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s, improving your decision-making skills, and helping you become more perceptive.

Knowing a language other than English also gives you an advantage in finding jobs and advancing your career, as mentioned earlier. So, if you’re still not convinced or inspired to learn a new language, let me review with you real quick.

Americans need to learn a language other than just English, and there are many ways to go about it in planning and motivation. There are also enormous benefits that come with learning a language. So pick a language, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Finnish (???), and go for it! With multilingualism, the possibilities are endless. You can travel, teach, collaborate, and maybe even meet someone really special, all while enhancing your brain.

Do it while you’re young because it gets harder as you grow older. You can take a class. You can study abroad. You can do it! After all, as politician and sociologist Tomáš Masaryk once said, 

“The more languages you know, the more you are human.”


Erand, Michael. "Are We Really Monolingual?" The New York Times (2012).
Eurobarometer. "Europeans and Languages: Eurobarometer 63.4." Survey. 2005.
Merritt, Anne. "Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism." The Telegraph (2013).
Texas State Data Center and Office of the State Demographer. "Table 1: Population by Race/Ethnicity in 2000 and Projections of the Population by Race/Ethnicity from 2010 to 2040 for Texas Under Alternative Assumptions of Age, Sex and Race/Ethnicity-Specific Net Migration." (2007)

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