Books and language, culture and language

Books and language, culture and language

Why do we teach children to read? Of course we want them to be able to gather information for themselves so that they can contribute to the world at large, but there's another human element at play.

Books teach us to live in the shoes of another person, to see their struggles as if they were our own, and in turn to learn more about human nature. But you know what's even better at doing that? Learning a second language. Learning a second language enables us to physically live another culture.

If you're bilingual or multilingual you will probably know what I mean, but how can it be that the same person thinks and acts in different ways depending on the situation, the language spoken, and the people you are talking to? Is it because language is a reflection of that culture, or as I see it, language is that culture? So that when two languages combine, two cultures combine, even ones with opposing perspectives?

This is why interaction with different cultures is important and should be actively encouraged, and it's why second language learning should also be encouraged. Not only understanding another person's culture, but actually living it does wonders for your ability to be compassionate and selfless, and this might just be what the world needs more of. Either way, the world's too big to be confined to one person anyway!

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