We had a discussion in class a while ago about the value of learning another language other than your own home tongue. An interesting discussion of this very topic was posted yesterday on the New York Times website.
The discussion begins with a point made by Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard University, in a recent article. Summers argues (as I do) that it is more important than ever that education ‘breeds cosmopolitanism,’ and that students have international experience. He goes on to write
English’s emergence as the global language, along with the rapid progress in machine translation and the fragmentation of languages spoken around the world, make it less clear that the substantial investment necessary to speak a foreign tongue is universally worthwhile. While there is no gainsaying the insights that come from mastering a language, it will over time become less essential in doing business in Asia, treating patients in Africa or helping resolve conflicts in the Middle East.
Short pieces by six other people on the Times page express varying views on the subject; it’s well worth reading what they have to say.
Do you agree that it is becoming less important for English speakers to learn another language?