Despite the fact that learning languages has become rather popular, there are still those who believe in several myths and misconceptions and consider this process unnecessary, difficult, and problematic. However, there are many more advantages than it may seem at first. Moreover, proficiency in other languages is a crucial skill that provides a person with the ability to engage with the world in such a way that it is more meaningful and immediate. Learning a second language can change one’s attitude to life and give a significant number of new opportunities. In this paper, I will list the benefits of knowing a second language and discuss to what extend learning English has impacted my identity.
As mentioned above, a second language opens a door behind which there is a significant number of hidden opportunities. First of all, the most direct connection to other people and cultures are words (“Top ten reasons to learn languages,” n.d.). If a person is able to communicate in another language, it exposes and fosters him or her to appreciate the history, arts, religions, and traditions of those countries and societies that are associated with that language. In turn, better understanding causes greater acceptance, empathy, and tolerance. It can totally change one’s mind and identity and impact a person’s wishes, interests, knowledge, and attitude to life.
There are other ways a second language may affect people’s identity. A necessary part of the learning process is making mistakes, and usually, it happens in front of other people. Day by day, a person becomes braver and more confident (“Top ten reasons to learn languages,” n.d.). Sometimes he or she has to communicate with a native speaker, and it is a brilliant way of being moved out of the comfort zone. Besides, the incredible sense of accomplishment a person feels after conversing with someone in their native language is indeed remarkable.
What is more, strengthening a person’s decision making is another advantage. Studies show that “decisions made in your second language are more reason-driven than those made in your native language” (“Top ten reasons to learn languages,” n.d., para. 9). It is rather interesting that deliberating in a second or third language lets people distance themselves from those emotional problems, biases, and responses that are entirely associated with their mother tongue.
Another advantage that may change a persons’ identity is the fact that the second language improves the native one. It is rather rare that people give a second thought to their own vocabulary and grammatical structure (Nasrollahi Shahri, 2018). Nevertheless, for example, when learning English, a person may find that he or she has a greater understanding of the mother tongue (Smith, n.d.). When it happens, people usually start seeing their own country, family, culture, and, more importantly, themselves quite differently.
As for me, I can say that my life totally changed after I have learned English. It is far to mention that it always seemed rather challenging and a little unnecessary for me to learn it. Why spend so much time and effort when there are online and offline translators that can help at any time? However, now I admit that I was wrong, and learning English had a significant impact on my life and identity. Knowing another language is something incredible; it is a unique and precious gift that I am so grateful for. I am able to understand those persons who also speak English no matter if it is their native or second language. When I realized that there are much more people who I can talk with. Moreover, knowing English allows me to read books, watch movies, and listen to songs on the language they were created. I can travel and study various cultures because now English is the bridge to understanding that I can walk over.
Another fact that had a great influence on my identity is that people are the same. Their thinking, meaning, and reasoning are almost alike, and what is different is the phonetic shell of the words. Of course, if one does not know a language, there is a ninety-five percent chance that he or she will not understand anything. However, it does not change the fact that the meaning of a sentence pronounced in two completely different languages will be the same in nine out of ten cases. This fact proves that people are similar to each other. My identity has changed after I realized the necessity of people being together and staying united. Even though we may sound differently, our hearts beat in the same rhyme. Besides, the English people I have met influenced my interests, hobbies, and perception of the world.
To draw a conclusion, I can say that learning English has impacted my identity to a great extent. I feel more secure, confident, and interested in the phenomena that are surrounding me. Moreover, I can see many more opportunities that are now available to me, and I am not afraid of taking them. Since I know that knowing English is a pleasure, I am considering starting to learn some other languages to be able to communicate with even more people.
Nasrollahi Shahri, M. N. (2018). Constructing a voice in English as a foreign language: Identity and engagement. TESOL Quarterly, 52(1), 85-109.
Smith, J. (n.d.). The benefits of learning a second language. Omniglot. Web.
Top ten reasons to learn languages. (n.d.). Lead with Languages. 2020, Web.