English language is widely understood as the universal language. If you are born in non-English speaking country, most probably English will be the language you learn at school as a second one. Many people when conquered English stop trying to master any other language. Is it a right thing to do?
Let us think about prospective of knowing only English. It will definitely help you to communicate with people from other countries. You will be able to buy things in any supermarket, order food in restaurants and visit certain museums which are adapted to English speakers.
However, there are certain problems with this utopian sight of usability of English language. Not everyone speaks it. There are many countries where you will not find any adapted social institution. You will not be able even to find your hotel or a museum you wanted to visit because all streets and city information are written in the language you do not know. People there may also be taught other languages, so the possibility to ask them for help will turn into a mountain of misunderstandings.
Of course, nowadays most of the countries have imbibed English language. However, certain problems may still appear. For example, neither you or your interlocutor may know English perfectly. Sure, you will be able to communicate on the basic topics. The problem starts when you want to dig deeper, when your communication has a chance to become more sophisticated and interesting. There you will find a problem of translation and understanding.
One day I was dining with a guy from Japan. I ordered risotto and he took spaghetti. When I first tried my rice I tasted some sort of pickle instead of chicken or spices. This pickle taste was quite salty. It was not the same taste you get when you buy a can of pickles in the supermarket. It tasted as if some old woman from a village made it by herself and put too much salt in it. This sort of pickles has its own name but I could not remember which one. Sure, my friend from Japan did not even understand what pickle was. That is why we spent half of our evening trying to figure out whether we understand each other when, for example, we are trying to describe the taste of food. And since a conversation about flavours is still a basic level talks, I imagined the number of problems that may arise when we try to discuss psychology or physics.
Those boundaries of knowing only English as a second language are not such strong arguments for you to learn a new one. That is why there is more general and important level of our experience of the world, which cannot be fulfilled with a help of one language. This is the question of culture.
When you travel to other countries, you probably want to know their culture better than the facts you could find out by reading a Wikipedia page. You see people who behave so differently from what you are used to notice in your native surrounding. That is the point when an interest to another culture arises.
You try to visit the streets which are not for tourists in order to feel the spirit of the nation and their history. You try to eat only the food that belongs to the country’s cuisine. Nevertheless, each time you are going to dive into one’s culture you meet a big concrete ground which slows you down and leaves you without the feeling of dissolving in another culture. This concrete is another language.
Sure, you go to the city quarters where only city residents live. Of course, you find a cafe and sit there trying to observe all the mess going on in the street. However, without a doubt you will not understand or feel anything if you are not be able to speak their language. If you had known the language, you would have been able to chat with someone. You could enter their parties and places where they hang out together without a feeling that you disturb them by asking to speak English.
Moreover, a language gives not only a benefit in the face of pleasure of communication. Language is a phenomena that inherited all of the common characteristics of its speakers. Throughout the history people were speaking this language, changing it and filling with new words. Language reflects the culture and the soul of its inhabitants.
When you learn a new language, your worldview changes. You begin to think differently, to perceive things differently. It widens your eyes and mind.
There are two type of languages: analytical and synthetic ones. English is the analytical one. It means that every word has its own meaning, which cannot be divided into two words with different meanings. Synthetic languages are those languages where you can combine certain words and create a new one. The term comes from the synthesis. You synthesize two or more words and at the end you get a new one. German language is an example of a synthetic one, that is why you see Germans having a lot of long words: the secret is that those are small words written together.
When you learn such a new language, your mind begins to work differently. You start to observe and pay attention to things you did not notice before. When you read a book and meet an unfamiliar word, you do not start to search for a vocabulary. First thing you do is trying to investigate this word. You divide it into meaningful parts, look for some associations with it. At the end, it teaches you to be more attentive and thoughtful. You also memorize words better if you got to the correct translation without any help of a vocabulary.
There are too many advantages in learning new languages, so that I cannot even think how someone can appreciate English as the only one needed. Of course, everyone should speak English so that we will have a tool for international communication. At the same time, I believe that everyone should learn other languages, too, because it is more useful than a lot of others activities. Our brain needs to be trained, and learning languages can give it the required training. When everyone train their brain by learning languages, we will definitely have not only smarter, but also more tolerant and kinder society.