National Geographic and Language Learning
What’s wrong with knowing just one language throughout life? If an Englishman and a Samoan said that, it would certainly project different images in their heads. As English can be said as the lingua franca of the world today, having Mandarin closely creeping behind it, understanding and being able to speak that one language does not seem so bad. But the question is do we really want to spend our lifetime cooped up in that small little monolingual world of ours? When one starts to learn or have the spark of interest to get to know what those foreign sounds are, little by little it opens up their world to what used to be the previously unknown or perhaps ignorant about. In other words, learning another language makes one realize of how small one can be in this world among the 6000 other languages present. If we look back at the Samoan man’s case, being fluent in Samoan is indeed helpful in the everyday life, but what about education, what about employment, what about travel? All of these, as much as one tries to deny it, need the use of another medium language to achieve them. Being a bilingual myself makes me realize of how my world has enormously expanded from just being a girl from Penang, Malaysia. The National Geographic indeed had enlightened me at a young age of other humongous monumental architectures across the world, other than the Kuala Lumpur Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers. I read of the impossible becoming possible when the Pyramid of Giza was built in ancient times with no machine whatsoever. And this was all in just one edition. Imagine how astonished a kid was when the next edition stated there are 2.5 million insect species in the Amazon Rainforest other than mosquitoes, grasshoppers and ants. Language, indeed, is a gift that no one should deny themselves of, regardless of just a few greeting phrases or talking about the economy in another language. Language educates people, about culture, habit, traditions, norms and values. And through this, we discover how intellectually similar we are or perhaps how different we behave compared to the rest of the world. And that’s the bigger family of human race that we are one small part of.