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English is fast becoming the world’s universal language, and instant translation technology is improving every year. So why bother learning a foreign language?

In this TED talk, Linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue, which can be summarised as:

  1. If you want to imbibe a culture, if you want to drink it in, if you want to become part of it, then you have to control to some degree the language that the culture happens to be conducted in. There’s no other way.
  2. It’s been shown that if you speak two languages, dementia is less likely to set in, and that you are probably a better multitasker. Bilingualism is healthy.
  3. Languages are just lot of fun.
  4. We live in an era when it’s never been easier to teach yourself another language.




Image source: FlickrJurek d. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)