Today, as I scanned the passing signs on my bus to Kuala Lumpur, I realized that I was born with a special gift. Something that as much as I might deny its worth always seems to help me conquer new places, makes the trying seem simple, and opens me up to infinite opportunities and people. This gift is having English as my native language. I grew up lucky to be speaking the world currency. While no country will ever admit or accept that speaking English is one of the quintessential parts of competing and interacting in the global community, it’s one of the main reasons I have been able to travel with such ease through these various countries.
I enjoy thinking of language as a form of international currency, because this makes me pretty rich–not something your probably used to hearing from a teacher. I am fluent in the two most spoken languages in the world, allowing me to communicate and interact with a fairly large % of the 7 billion people on this planet. For a true extrovert, this news couldn’t be better. This however, might be the one instance that I allow myself to get “money” hungry. I crave more currency, a desire to speak more languages, open up my social world to more people, cultures, and experiences.
I by no means am willing to rest on my laurels relying on everyone to speak English–so much gets lost in translation. However, it’s also improbable to attempt to learn ever language in the world. If I truly want to enable all those I come in contact with to openly express themselves through language our options are currently very limited–gestures, pointing, and pictures will only get us so far. So how can I address this seemingly insurmountable challenge? Will there ever be a way for all humans to communicate in a meaningful way? If more people considered language as a form of currency would language education become a larger priority in our global economy? I guess in the mean time I will just have to make it a personal aspiration to learn as many as I can. 2 down, over 7000 known languages to go!