The power of language: experiencing culture through a different lens

Due to rapid technological developments, instant access to films, TV shows and cheap flights, it has never been easier to start learning a new language.

Yet for many, the globalised nature of the modern world breeds a casual attitude towards language learning, as simple machine translations can assist in stumbling through broken conversation in a taxi or restaurant while abroad. So, if these options exist, why bother learning a new language today?

The same can be said for culture, which is also fundamentally linked to language. By immersing ourselves in a new language, we gain a deeper understanding of customs, traditions, and perspectives, as there are many examples of things (both linguistically and culturally) which are not directly translatable. For instance, in Spanish, ‘sobremesa’ refers to the cultural tradition of continuing conversation and relaxing at the table long after a meal is finished, despite there being no more food.  

Secondly, language skills boost career prospects and open doors to global opportunities. Learning a language builds key traits such as discipline, resilience, and self-confidence which are attractive to employers, and stepping out of our comfort zones by embracing the challenge of learning a new language helps us grow and develop as individuals. In an increasingly connected world, employers also value multilingual skills, and proficiency in another language can lead to better job prospects, international collaboration, and career advancement both at home and abroad.

Take thebigword, for example – a company which strives to support others in need. Learning another language opens doors to incredible opportunities – such as working at thebigword – to make a real difference to people’s lives. Without the linguists, thebigword would not be able to deliver essential language services all around the word to those who struggle to communicate beyond their mother tongue. 

Finally, language learning enhances cognitive abilities and brain health. Studies have shown that bilinguals demonstrate improved memory, problem-solving skills, and even a reduced risk of cognitive decline from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Although the convenience of technology is undeniable, the power of language in experiencing culture, forming real human connections, and creating new opportunities is something that will never go away.

Written by Adam Tuck