Learning a Second Language is a Waste of Time

Learning a second language is unproductive and a veritable waste of time. At long last I have come to my senses. After years expounding and arguing about the benefits of learning foreign tongues I have come to realize the truth and seen the light. I intone the mea culpa and offer my apologies. Allow me, if you will, to explain the rationale behind my about-face on the matter.

Probably 95 percent of the world's 7500 million people speak only one language. They seem to get by being monolingual and are happy as larks speaking only Swahili, Bambara, Tagalog, Italian, Bubi and other languages. Many of these one-language humans are successful at their callings, lead happy lives, have families, travel, eat at their hearts' content, all oblivious to the fact that others speak different tongues and express themselves in different ways. So if so many people can make it through life speaking only one language or dialect, why should we not be able to go it alone in a sea of diverse tongues?

Those who claim that language-learning is important and beneficial never agree on which tongue should be studied. Some declare that English is a good language to learn while others prefer Spanish or French. In central Europe German must still be considered. Chinese is fashionable, and primordial if you want to visit China. The choices are appalling and daunting: over 6,500 languages to pick from; so many options are simply overwhelming. So: when in doubt do naught, or even nowt, abstain.

Politicians, take President Obama for example, seem to manage quite well without foreign languages. Foreign politicians, the foolish ones, make the effort and invest valuable time acquiring a passing proficiency in English to talk to Obama. As a last resort he can reach out -outsource- and hire interpreters who will do the work for him.

If we have interpreters and translators, why bother studying difficult foreign sounds? Take Obama, for instance again, and consider whether it would be to his advantage to invest the time and effort to learn, say, Spanish, -a language widely spoken in the US- when he is not going to run again for office. It would be foolish, of course. And when he meets foreign dignitaries he does not need to speak in their lingo because they have a smattering of English and, besides, they have nothing much to say. A handshake and a smile for the official photo is more than enough. Should we not emulate politicians?

CEOs of important companies seldom bother to study languages. They have enough with their own.

I have come to the conclusion that life is short and we should not waste a minute of it with the effort, time and money involved in language-learning. It takes years and years and the result is never satisfactory: native speakers will always mock our accent, mimic our ways and call us names. Sometimes they will even look down on us, to boot. The heck with them.

I am going to concentrate all my efforts in making money because I have read that money is the sinews of war and everything else, even if we only speak one language. Body language gives us plenty of possibilities to convey our thoughts and can be "spoken" in all countries.

Do not ever try to learn Spanish if you only speak English, and do not attempt to speak English if you already speak the language of Cervantes. Let others make the effort. Let'em learn!

I am sorry to have taken so long to realize this and I am quick to pass my new findings on to you to mend my past errors on this subject. I have turned into a convert scoff-language linguist. If you do not share my new views, you can always heed my old words on learning languages.

Did I write the above in earnest? Am I in truth a wolf, a ravening one, in sheep's clothing? Let me in on your opinion, please, because perhaps I have left the blacktop for a gravel path.

[This post first ran on Viva Fifty!]