04 Dec How Learning English Can Make You a Global Citizen
Why are you learning English?
This is probably the most important question you can ask, but the depth and sincerity of your answer will not only determine the quality of your learning experience, but also the reward.
Most people would say that they are learning English for professional reasons, some would say for travel, cultural reasons, or to form relationships, but few people have any idea of the huge impact that English fluency can have upon human consciousness, global interconnectivity, and the way we perceive ourselves in the world.
English is without a doubt the universal language. This is not a question of linguistic imperialism, but rather the reality of living in a modern, globalized world. Not only is English the international language of business, diplomacy, and tourism, but it can also open your mind to an entirely new perspective on the world.
We call this new perspective Global Citizenship, and it’s a collection of processes, skills, character traits, and attitudes that together form an identity that transcends geographic and political borders to include all of humanity.
We may not be free of borders in the physical sense (yet), but we have the means, the opportunity, and the responsibility to actively participate in an already existing international community and field of awareness that promotes a better, more peaceful, unified, and diplomatic path to solving global problems.
The problems are many, they are severe, and if we are to save ourselves from our own cancerous ways, we must dramatically expand our worldview to make space in our identity for all cultures and religions, to celebrate our differences, but ultimately to recognize that what we have in common as human beings is much, much stronger than what separates us.
As we learn, as we meet people from around the world, and as we open our minds to new cultures, information, experiences, and ways of looking at the world, we unlock the hidden and life-altering potential of learning English: World Citizenship.
Here are 4 ways that English helps us build a global perspective.
Communication is the Key
The first and most immediate effect of English fluency is that you can communicate with people from different cultures, and this alone will transform your perspective. Nothing can replace communication, which is the gateway to true human connection and relationship. Not travel, not education, not intelligence, and not even good information can replace this.
When you truly connect with people from other cultures, you are exposed to the naked truth, which forces you to challenge the beliefs and stereotypes you’ve inherited from your culture and put yourself in their shoes. This makes it increasingly hard to project your fears and misconceptions on others, and you realize that other people from other religions, cultures, and backgrounds are not as different as you once thought.
In fact, your conception of “they” as an external group of people that is different from you starts to dissolve and turn into a “we” that you can identify with. This happens through personal and professional contact, as well as being exposed and enriched by other aspects of different cultures, such as music, food and customs. These are all very significant experiences, but the key that opens the door is speaking the same language.
“The limits of your language are the limits of your world.”-Ludwig Wittgenstein
In this sense, English has become the language of peace and diplomacy. Being able to communicate and relate to people from a large variety of places is the first big step to global citizenship. It puts you in a position to transform your perspective not only about other cultures, but also of your own, and you start to see that we are all in the same boat.
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