Talking Point: Learning Languages

13 Conversations

Tony Slattery sets about learning a language or two.

There are a staggering 309,352,280 English speakers in the world. If you include those people who have English as a second language, that number rises to 508,000,000.

Many of you will be reading this across the globe; and the chances are that there will be quite a few of you for whom English is a second language. However, only a fifth of 15-year-olds in the UK now learn a non-English language.

The somewhat idealistic creator of Esperanto, a Pole called Lazar Zamenhof, thought if everybody had the ability to speak an international second language, one which was entirely neutral and had no political connotations, then maybe there would be no more wars.

  • What do you think?

  • Is learning a second language still important?

  • Is English now what Zamenhof hoped Esperanto would have been; the unofficial second language for millions across the globe?

  • Does learning languages help build bridges between different cultures?

  • Are you learning a second language?

  • If so, how many languages do you speak?

  • Is it important to learn another language – is it a key way of becoming immersed in the life and culture of the country?

  • Do you think Zamenhof had a point? If we were all able to communicate easily without the need for translation, would it lead to greater understanding and world peace?

Or do you think even if Esperanto had really caught on, maybe it wouldn't have solved mankind's lust for war?

After all, just look at the unfortunate Babel Fish:

'Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers between communications, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in existence.'

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