Being bilingual is fun no doubt, yet it’s proved its compelling necessity due to everyday life’s demands; jobs’ qualifications, travelling abroad, getting scholarships …etc.
so we asked a few people why they’re learning foreign languages and here’s what they said:
“One of the important reasons I’m learning a new language is to be able to help others. I remember when I visited Columbia I was kinda lost in the airport and asked for help but literally no one there could speak English and I spoke very little Spanish then, until coincidentally a Lebanese girl who knows English and Spanish helped me. I found out they only speak Spanish in Columbia and nobody cares about learning another language; not merely out of holding onto their language, it’s more of laziness and general ignorance. On the contrary, the Germans; proud as they are of their language, they’re excellent in English. Also, I’ve been asked very stupid questions about Egypt out of their lack of general knowledge about its culture, which constitutes another reason why people should learn foreign languages.” -Hoda Suleiman
“When I first started learning English, I fell in love with it. I tried to learn French but failed back then, so I gave up on languages. Later I tried learning Deutsche which reignited my passion about languages. One thing I like about learning languages is being able to understand others. Besides, having to read the subtitles while watching anything is so distracting. On my to-learn list I have: Deutsche, Spanish, Danish ( I know it’s not widely used but I just felt it’s a nice language.) and maybe later French when I make peace with it.” –Omar ElMazeny
“One of the most exciting feelings I get when I read a different language other than my mother one, is how I feel like a whole different person. For instance, speaking English makes me feel like a narrator and I don’t really know why but I feel like in English I can tell more stories. Speaking Italian makes me feel fresh, I feel reincarnated in an Italian character whose name is Rosaline or Izabella. When I speak French I automatically feel like I’m drinking coffee and having Baguette in a French cafe with a French waltz playing. Deutsche makes me feel like I’m a scientist who’s about to make a breakthrough. I feel like that’s how genius people talk; in Deutsche. I think it’s more about the feeling of reaching beyond your limitations and getting to be someone else other than yourself. It’s the closest to seeing your other selves in alternative realities and parallel universes.” –Yomna Mustafa
“Learning a new language helps me discover myself. I like proving to myself I can succeed in learning a new language since it’s always challenging. I chose to learn Italian because I love how it sounds.” -Alaa Akram
“One reason why I learn English is to be able to read and dig deep down in literature -which I love so much. I enjoy speaking German because the accent appeals to me, unlike many others who hate how it sounds. But on the academic level, I genuinely hate it as much as I hate Hitler.” -Maha Bassam
What bilinguals might not know is that learning a foreign language is actually healthy. It’s like a brain nutrition as it keeps it complex and actively engaged. Bilingual brains show differences from monolingual brains in terms of neuronal activation as well as in their actual structure.
The Trolley Dilemma
And in a manifestation of how far being a bilingual could affect you; a study was carried out by a team led by psychologist Albert Costa at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona featuring the foot-bridge version of the Trolley Dilemma for almost 725 people:
“You’re on a railway bridge. Below you, a train is heading full speed towards five unsuspecting people working on the track. There is a fat man standing on the bridge with you. If you shoved him off, his impact would stop the train, and you would save the five workers. Would you push him?”
Half of the participants read the scenario and made their decision in their native tongue while the other half followed the same procedure using a foreign language throughout.
It was discovered that when participants were presented with the dilemma in their native tongue, they were far less likely to go for pushing the fat man than those who read the description in their second language. In Costa’s experiment, only 20% of participants chose the utilitarian option when using their native language, but the percentage increased by more than half (to 33%) when participants used a foreign language.
“people’s moral judgments and decisions depend on the native-ness of the language in which a dilemma is presented, becoming more utilitarian in a foreign language…The reduction of the emotionality elicited by a foreign language may promote psychological distance in general. Increasing psychological distance leads individuals to construe situations in more abstract terms, which in some circumstances aligns with more utilitarian decision making.”
Boaz Keysar, Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago, suggests, for example, that immigrants may be better equipped to act as jury members, as they are likely to pragmatically respond to the evidence presented in the local language. As sometimes adhering to moral rules is viewed as more important than the ability to make a utilitarian analysis of the facts. In such cases, it may be beneficial to communicate in a person’s native tongue, according to Science Daily.