June 3 2020

Language tips

I speak, so I connect

We are currently living in an ever expanding world of connectivity. The internet is melting away borders and social media makes us laugh together. A smartphone in our pocket gives us the opportunity to connect to people in the now, but also in the past. Whether it is a video of a speech of a famous scientist from the 1920s, or the picture of you and your grandmother from a few years back. Within this world of information and exploration we have one obstacle that can make or break this connection. Language. 

There are roughly 6500 languages currently spoken on our planet. 2000 of them are dying out, but that still leaves 4500 languages that are alive and thriving. Only 23 of these languages are spoken by the majority of the people. 23! And every language has their own quirks and methods. They have their own scripture, their own metaphors and idioms and imagery. Every language is closely connected to our culture and the way we live and love. 

I’m going to take a wild guess. You grew up with one language. Then, later on, you were introduced to a second and maybe a third language. Depending on the importance of this language for your future or education, you mastered two of them. One fully for your goals, and the other to be able to decently communicate with others speaking this language but not the other. 

In our current climate we seek connectivity. But at the same time the unknown keeps us cautious. We miscommunicate because we do not speak the same language. Translating apps and closed captions in videos can help us to understand the words. But do we understand each other?

Did you know that you think differently in every language you know? According to scientists this happens because language and culture are so closely connected. So in the base of your identity you are connected to multiple cultures through language. Isn’t that amazing?! You are a hub of connectivity, because you learned a language. You expanded yourself and grew, just because you speak a language. You connected.

Anouk Thole - Dutch teacher @Una Paloma Blanca Language School