Is Learning a Second Language Still Necessary?
Today I came across an article in the New York Times "Room for Debate" feature regarding the importance of learning languages. Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard, wrote an editiorial about university curriculae going forward in the 21st century which questioned whether or not learning a foreign language will be as important as it was in the past: "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."
As a former exchange student and speaker of a foreign language, this really intrigued me. It turns out that it did many other thinkers in business and academia as well and a healthy debate has emerged. Check it out here.
What do you think? Does technology and English's dominance as the language of global commerce nullify our need to learn other languages? Or does learning and understanding another language give insight into the world far beyond simply what someone says in another tongue? Weigh in and let us know what you think!