How many languages do you speak?

NSLI-Y Korea Summer Students collaborate on a poster

One of the most popular discussion threads in the Youth Forum this week is a on-going thread started in May 2011 by a student in Palestine asking his peers around the world, “How many languages do you speak?”

Responses have been posted from around the world; Oman, Kenya, Taiwan, Yemen, Senegal, the U.S. and more. They’ve varied from those who speak one language to those speaking around five (often including local/tribal languages,) as well as a student who knows sign language.

One student wanted to up her number by counting “gibberish” as a language, and another said he spoke three languages, counting a fourth language as “smiling!” Those who spoke one language often posted an unhappy emoticon next to their posting, and others explained that they are in the process of learning a second language.

In their book, ‘Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth  to Engage the World‘, authors Veronica Boix Mansilla and Anthony Jackson point out,

To be prepared for a world of growing cultural interaction and diversity, students will also need to understand what happens when cultures meet and influence one another. They will need to understand how differences in power, wealth, and access to knowledge affect opportunities for individuals and social groups. Thriving in a world of diversity involves communicating with diverse audiences— being able to recognize how different audiences may interpret information informed by their own perspectives. It demands that students listen and communicate carefully and respectfully, using appropriate languages and technologies to do so.”

Speaking another language, even at the intermediate level, allows students to be more adept at navigating our interconnected world with greater sensitivity to other cultures within their own community and abroad.

If you’re looking for ways to connect your students with native speakers around the world, join our Collaboration Centre. We have over thirty Language Lounges where you can find partners classrooms and for more information on iEARN-USA’s physical exchange language programs visit our Programs and Partnerships page.

Something you’ll discover along the way, smiles are most certainly the most popular “language” of iEARN!

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