Voices Of Youth

​Benefits to learning more languages

Bilingualism is common in Singapore, and some people are naturally stronger in languages than others.

English is the language we all use to communicate with one another, especially with those from other races.

Even then, there are cultural differences that we cannot fully appreciate unless we learn the other person's language.

Studies have shown that an average human can learn up to seven languages, though some may be able to learn even more than that.

I believe that bilingual Singaporeans have the ability to pick up another language on top of English and their mother tongue.

Thus, the learning of a basic third language, preferably Singapore's official language, Malay, should be encouraged.

There are many benefits if one is able to communicate in multiple languages.

For example, we would have stronger skills that make up the brain's executive control system, looking after high-level thought, multi-tasking and sustained attention, and perform better than monolingual people in spatial memory tasks.

This can lead to a smarter and more efficient work force in Singapore in the future.

Second, in Singapore, we coexist with other races. Learning the other person's language would allow us to relate better with one another.

By picking up the language of our fellow compatriots, we learn and understand their lives and culture deeper.

With this awareness and the understanding of one another's culture, there is a smaller likelihood of misunderstandings taking place.

It would also strengthen our cultural identity as one people, one nation, one Singapore.

Hence, having students learn a third language in school will benefit the country in the long run.

Carine Yeo Fang Yi, 18

Polytechnic Year 2 student

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline '​Benefits to learning more languages'. Subscribe