“All art is quite useless.” So said Oscar Wilde and stirred a great debate which continues even to this day.
Even if art is useless, it’s certainly not worthless. It may not solve great riddles of quantum mechanics, but it’s still necessary.
Languages form an important part of the arts, and in this article I intend to show you why language teaching is important; why it’s more than merely a method to communicate.
Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Each of these diseases concern loss of memory; particularly in old age.
Many studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent.
For adults who knew only a single language, the mean age for the first signs of dementia were found to be 71.4.
For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for the first signs of the disease was 75.5, 4.1 years more than the former!
And this was no accident. Studies took into account other factors, such as education level, income, gender and physical health, but the results remained the same.
Makes You More Open-minded
A good novel of any language captures the essence of the culture, of the time-period, and the location where the novel is set.
That’s why Yann Martel once said, “There is no greater representation of reality than a great novel.” And Hillary Mantel concluded, “The historian tells us what happened, the novelist tells us how it felt while it was happening.”
This is a strong basis for why language teaching is important. The more languages you learn, the more literature of different languages you can read; which opens yourself up to different cultures and histories.
Seeing the world from a different perspective and understanding that different societies have many common emotions and desires is an eye-opening experience.
To Better Understand Our Thought Processes
Our very existence depends on language. And no, I don’t mean it in a poetic context.
Philosophers say consciousness cannot exist without language.
“I’m sitting at my desk.” “I’m writing this article.” “After I finish this, I’ll go have dinner.”
I can call myself conscious because I can think these thoughts, but I’m thinking them in a language, the English language.
So, if a species has no language, then most likely it will lack consciousness because consciousness is dependent on language.
You see the argument?
To understand the true roots of our thought processes a knowledge of several languages may be necessary.
I hope this article will help you realize why language teaching is important because it is not some frivolous activity, as some people might imagine it to be.