We have learnt it, we have used it, and learnt some more. We have improved and continue to improve. Always working on it. Is there ever going to be an end to it?
There are numerous reasons why we learn English as a second language. For a vast majority, the journey begins either in kindergarten or primary school as part of a national curriculum – we learn because we’re told to. Yet, for adults, it’s not water under the bridge, and we still go on polishing our Englishes. Why?
There are two types of answers. Some are as trivial as your school routines:
1. We learn to communicate whenever, wherever.
Just think about it. One fifth of the world’s population can speak some English. So it goes without saying that if you want to get in touch with foreigners, you make use of the universal language. Whether in writing or speaking, it’s still in English. Isn’t it? Mexican brother-in-law and you don’t speak Spanish? French CEO asking you to brief him on the last project and French is not your thing? Italian friend of a friend coming over tonight and you’re Italianproof? What now? What language will you use? Isn’t it obvious? Still, trivial reasons are good reasons.
2. We learn to broaden horizons.
Not only is it the language of literature, science and technology, but also pop-culture we’re surrounded by. If self-development has always been your priority, you’ll certainly read Shakespeare in the original, delve into Newton’s law of universal gravitation, study a manual of an intricate device you have just bought on eBay and had it delivered from the USA, watch another documentary or TED talk with no subtitles on, or perhaps try to understand Coldplay’s lyrics. All of the above contribute to your personal growth. How come? You certainly gain knowledge. You expose yourself to something exotic, something slightly different than your local culture. Plus you get so much more insight into the subject matter by studying it in the language it was brought into life, namely English.
3. We learn to get entertained.
Being English-literate gives you so many opportunities to have fun in the foreign language. And I mean pure fun! Be it socializing in the melting pot we live in (have you been to Gdańsk’s Sztuka Wyboru?), watching your beloved series or hilarious YouTube videos, playing online games, following your favourite artist, blogger or vlogger, fiercely commenting on Twitter or Instagram. But there’s more! How to make sense of Aesop Rock and grasp all the books or articles on the Internet? And all of them real-life! And to top it all off, exploring new places and befriending people from different cultural backgrounds. In this territory, there’s nothing worse than inhibitions. Don’t hesitate! Let English become your key to having a blast! Unless you’re already holding THE KEY 🙂
All of that’s true. But there are other – less evident reasons.
4. We learn to get a competitive edge.
English is the language of business. And therefore, mastering it may open countless doors to your future career or assure prospects of promotion. Seeking a new job? Thinking of getting promoted? Your company has just merged with an overseas firm? You got a new foreign customer recently? Going on a business trip to Korea? International conference to attend? Knowing English will certainly make all of the above work. Without a shadow of doubt. Still not convinced? Forgive my being cheeky but… What’s the name of the position you’re currently holding? I bet it’s in English. Gotcha!
5. To feed.
We live fast. True. Yet, we are more and more aware of our needs and do our best to reach our goals. Harder, better, faster, stronger – rings a bell? It’s not about the song right now, though. It’s about our ambitions. And we aim high. We crave for more; day in, day out. When it comes to English, we push ourselves to further and further limits, too. We want it all! We don’t want that second-rate job. Don’t want slow careers. Nor to speak sloppy Englishes. As radical as it seems, we aspire to be bilingual. To sound sophisticated or genuine. To be as good as natives. To impress and charm our interlocutors. And most of all, to be satiated. To satisfy our appetites – linguistically speaking.
What is your hunger? How is it reflected in the ways you communicate? What is your story? Feel more than welcome to share it with us either here or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).