You and Your Child Must Learn Multiple Languages

Failure to be at least trilingual in the future will result in abject poverty, exclusion from general society and ridicule. Take action now. Spend all available free-time playing language learning games and paying for the best private tutors.

With considerable effort, pain and money, you will become marginally good at a language that you (and your child) will hate.

Learn if you have a reason, not just ‘because’

The need to be competent in multiple languages is less relevant today than ever before. If your career choice or personal interest involves another language, then you will likely have the motivation to spend the time (and money) to become competent. Learning a language isn’t about any natural skill or ability. It is about time, interest and attention. Learning a language because ‘everyone else is’ or because ‘you need another language’ won’t work.

These days you hear a lot about the need to learn multiple languages. Yet, the majority of the world gets by with one language. Technology is quickly closing any remaining gaps. Travel apps can live-translate menus and help you order in any language required. Most email services translate messages. For anything that doesn’t already fit within a translation ecosystem, there are multiple apps, web services and devices that can take the translation as well.

The Tech Will Only Get Better

Translation is a data volume problem, so over time we can expect that translation systems will only get better and ubiquitous within our daily lives. I’d choose the one that “speaks” to me. I expect that within our lifetimes, we will have live-translation video conferencing where two people speaking completely different languages can handle a live video conference with equivalent or less inconvenience than a conversation between native speakers.

Think about how you spend your time

“I’d prefer to spend my time on other things and making sure that I can communicate well in one language,” said a childhood friend when I asked him why he wasn’t learning another language. I was in my early 20s and just back from studying in Japan. I loved the language and how it helped me think differently about the world. Everyone I spoke with I encouraged to learn a language. “It will change your world”. Which is true. Multi-lingual speakers have been shown to have different brain structures and may be able understand different viewpoints easier.

In the years since, I’ve realized that this isn’t unique to language learning. Someone who plays music instruments, builds things, or has one of multiple other hobbies will gain insights and perspective about the world. I’ve also met too many multi-lingual bigoted and terrible people.

Language learning isn’t a precondition to a good life or even a successful life. Learning to think about how you spend your time is.

I still speak another language and continue to explore languages

More than 80% of learning a language is having a sincere interest in the language. If you don’t enjoy hearing or understanding the language; if it doesn’t interest and challenge you — don’t bother starting.

I choose Japanese because I loved the way the language sounded and the logic of its structure and composition. I still love the language and enjoy speaking it. Its a puzzle and beautiful at the same time.

These days I still slowly work on my Mandarin but with the knowledge that I’ll likely never be competent. I have too many other priorities to invest the time (lack of interest).

I once was anxious about this. Concerned and worried that I wasn’t spending enough time learning languages and that would cause problems for my future. Now, I realize that isn’t the case.

If I end up in a situation where I need to learn another language or the interest strikes me, I’m confident I can figure it out. If not, I’m certain I will use and waste my time effectively without language learning.

Duct Tape