Language is human speech, either spoken or written. Language is the most common system of communication. It allows people to talk to each other and to write their thoughts and ideas. The word «language» may be loosely used to mean any system of communication, such as traffic light or Indian smoke signals. But the origin of the world shows its basic use. It comes from the Latin word «lingua», meaning «tongue». And a language still is often called a tongue. Wherever there is human society, there is language.
Most forms of human activity depend on the cooperation of two or more persons. A common language enables human being to work together in an infinite variety of ways. Language has made possible the development of advances, technological civilization. Without language for communication, there would be little or no science, religion, commerce, art, literature, government and philosophy. Scholars have determined that there are about 3000 languages spoken in the world today. This number does not include dialects (local forms of a language).
Many languages are spoken only by small groups of a few hundred or a few thousands persons. There are more than a hundred languages with a million or more speakers. Of these languages, 19 have over 50 millions speakers each: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and some others. People in many countries use some of these major languages, including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic. Most people learn their own language without fully realizing what is taking place.
Young children feel a need to communicate their particular needs and they begin listening to older persons and imitating them. They learn to connect individual objects, ideals and actions with words. In school, the language-learning process becomes conscious and deliberate. There are many important reasons for learning a foreign language. Among them are the following: • Learning a foreign language increases your range of communication. For example, if you speak only English, you can communicate with over 400 million other persons.
If you also learn Spanish, you could speak to any of the 297 million Spanish-speaking people in Latin America , Spain , and other parts of the world. • By learning another language, you get knowledge of the customs and ways of life of their nations. While learning French, you find out how French people live, behave, and think. • A foreign language can help and add to your knowledge of your own language. For example, by studying Latin, you can improve your understanding of the thousands of English words that have their roots in Latin. Learning a foreign language helps you to add to your general stock of information. It can be a key that unlock new fields of knowledge. If you learn German you will be able to read books written in German on almost any subject you may wish to study. • Knowledge of a foreign language can help you to gain a spirit of broad human tolerance. You will find that other people may think, speak, and act in ways different from yours. But these ways are not necessarily less desirable than yours. Learning any language involves four different skills: 1. speaking; 2. understanding; . reading; 4. writing. If you understand a foreigner, and can make yourself understood in speech and writing, you have mastered it. No language is easy or difficult in itself. The ease or difficulty of any language depends on the age of the person learning it. Before the age of 10, all language is equally easy when learned by the natural speaking method (listening and imitating). After 10, our language habits are set in our own tongue. From then on, another language is easy in so far as it resembles our own language. It is difficult in so far as it differs from our own.
Therefore, it is desirable to learn foreign languages as early as possible. For hundreds of years, language students have used grammar books, exercise books, and dictionaries. Modern study aids, especially for spoken language – include: 1. Voice recordings with or without accompanying booklets; 2. Tape recorders, which permit students to listen, repeat, erase their own repetition, then try again: 3. Videotape, which let students watch their mouth movements; and 4. Computers which correct student’s translation of words and phrases on a video display screen.
These language study aids provide not only instruction and practice, but also self-instruction, because they can be used without a teacher. People have long been interested in having one language that could be spoken throughout the world. Such a language would help to promote understanding and better feeling among nations. A universal language also would increase cultural and economic ties among various countries. Through the years, at least 600 universal languages have been proposed. Esperanto is the most successful universal tongue.
About 10 millions people learned Esperanto since its creation in 1887. Some persons suggest that an existing language, such as English, French, or Russian, be adopted as a universal language. The adoption of any language, artificial or natural, would greatly simplify communication among nations. The real problem, however, lies in the choice of such a language, because there are so many possibilities. The ancient Greeks and Romans studied the nature and the origin of language. But their studies locked a scientific basis. During the Middle Ages, many people thought all languages came from Biblical Hebrew.
The scientific study of language did not start until the late 1700’s. At first, scholars such as Friedrich Schlegel, Jacob Grimme, and Franz Bopp, all of Germany , studied languages by the comparative method. Their findings led to a classification of languages into families. Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss scholar, in the 1900’s studied languages by the general method. He established laws that apply to all languages. Today the science of language is called linguistic or philosophy. The English language is used by more than 450 million people in almost every part of the world.
During he 1500’s, fewer than 2 million people spoke English. Through the centuries, English spread throughout the world. Today more than 300 million people speak English as their native language. Most of them live in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, and the United States. Another 50 million, chiefly in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, speak English in addition to their own English. English is the international language of science and technology. English is also used throughout the world in business and diplomacy. Need a custom essay on FOREIGN LANQUAGES IN OUR LIFE?