COLUMN: Stop Killing Language Diversity!



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Hello, everyone. This is a small snippet of the beautiful language of Japanese. I have been learning the language by taking classes and self-studying for over four years now, and I've have really noticed how leaning a second language really helps to change the ways you see the world.

Whether it's Japanese, German, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, French...you get a glimpse of another culture, another perspective. For me, it started with Arabic when I was a teenager, then German and Spanish, and then the interesting and uniquely different world of Japanese.

After years of German and Spanish, I was open to new ideas, and when introduced to the language and culture of the Japanese by my younger sister, I slowly grew passionate about it. Since then I have done self studies, taken classes, visited Japan, and am planning a study abroad for next fall.

I have found that when talking about my passion for languages and culture, the only people who really get it are other people who have been bitten by the language and culture bug. Can you say study abroad fairs and international expos? That's where I can have some of the longest and most unexpected conversations.

Once you get bit by the culture and language bug, there's no turning back. It's addictive, in a good way. It helps us to develop a voracious appetite for knowledge outside of just our own circles. Even employers are searching us out in the crowd. Nearly every job interview I have had has talked about my language learning or time spent abroad and each time they are pretty impressed with it.

Why do they want us? Because of the global perspective. We have to think in a way that is foreign to us, when we are abroad and often we have to problem solve to communicate our intent in a different way than if we were speaking our native tongue.

If so many employers and speakers of a second language know the benefits, then why is it that so many educational institutions tend to not place enough importance on these programs? I am not specifically talking about CMU, which is rich in study abroad opportunities, and gets a so-so rating for language diversity. But why are the languages often whittled away until only the main ones like Spanish are left? Not that I have anything against Spanish, but that variety, of having other possibilities available is so necessary!

I only have one thing to say: ????? ??????????! To foreign language departments everywhere: strive to do your best!


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