Let me introduce myself: I’m a young boy who lives in Brazil and studies at an international school which aims at creating an intercultural connection between my home country and France. That’s why my mother tongue is Portuguese (my country’s official language) and I speak French, English and Spanish. I also suffer influences from Arabic and Hebrew because of my origins and religion.
My mother is also a Brazilian and studied at the same school as I do. So she speaks the four languages I mention besides Italian, since she got curious and followed courses in Italian. My father was born in Lebanon, studied in an international school and moved to Brazil so he speaks: Arabic, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. As you can see, the whole family is polyglot. There’s a reason for that. Both my mother and my father have related people all around the world. The common family language is French, and the minority who can’t speak it, understands English. So knowing four languages helps me a lot in keeping in touch with the rest of the family.
That’s not the only reason why people learn other languages. Foreign languages are very useful in several areas; for instance, for business connections, intercultural exchanges or tourism. That’s the reason why learning foreign languages should be fostered all around the world. In our school, we have the opportunity to experience a very peculiar type of situation: we live in Brazil, speak Portuguese but we learn everything in French. In addition to this, at secondary school, we have the luck of learning three more languages: English, Spanish/German and Latin (optional).
Thanks to that, I’m able to affirm that speaking foreign languages gives you a better status. For example: girls think it is “so cute” the fact that you speak “French, the language of love”. In fact, if you don’t speak a second language, you are a step behind and the lack of languages will bring you issues, like when you try to find a job. The most frequent language learned is English since it has become the lingua franca of international communication both in the real and virtual world. We currently see young people saying: “quantos scraps você tem” (which means: how many scraps do you have?), or a kind of Portenglish: “vou downlodar essa música essa noite no meu pc” (I’ll download this song tonight on my pc).
Although English is very important in our lives, the language that represents me will always be Portuguese. I believe you can only really express yourself in your mother tongue. The sonority of the words changes already their meaning. Even if you speak perfectly another language, you will never say exactly the same thing in two different languages.
I try to be always open-minded in relation to other cultures. However, I think it would be impossible for me to learn German. Only by listening to it, it reminds me of the holocaust and genocide practiced during World War II. Besides this one, there’s no other language I’d be adverse to.
As a conclusion, I’d say that, together with some other factors, languages play an important role in the formation and expression of an individual’s personal identity.