02 Apr How Learning a Language Builds Tolerance
“A different language is a different vision of life.” – Federico Fellini
When you learn a new language, you broaden your perspective of the world by becoming familiar with another nation, its culture, and traditions. This opens your eyes to another way of thinking and you’re more capable of connecting to a different culture and accepting others.
There are several benefits to learning a foreign language that go far beyond the ability to communicate easily. To name a few, languages increase your networking skills, enhance your ability to multi-task and boost your brain power. Additionally, it also makes you more tolerant as a person.
What is Tolerance?
Tolerance can be defined as the willingness to accept someone’s views and beliefs, even if they go against your own. The concept of tolerance is very important when learning to acknowledge and reconcile with other cultures without judgment.
The UAE is a perfect example of tolerance and multiculturalism. Wherever you go, there’s a reflection of the local’s community recognition of foreigners living in the country. The simple example of road signs and advertisements written in both Arabic and English shows the perfect merger of acknowledging different cultures and nationalities.
That said, we can all agree that languages have the power to develop and spread tolerance among people.
Let’s look at two important ways of how language learning impacts tolerance.
Understanding Cultural Differences
Language and culture go hand in hand; languages help us understand cultures better. When you learn a new language, you’d naturally find yourself immersed in a new culture. It opens your mind to diverse ideas and ways of looking at the world around you. Multicultural exposure equips you with various perspectives, develops your creativity and reduces the bias towards others leading to better judgment. After all, learning about cultural diversity can be fun. Instead of criticizing people who are different, explore and honor their differences in a positive way.
Remember that being tolerant doesn’t mean you have to embrace all the cultural aspects and values of a new culture. The idea is to be respectful towards them.
Another way language learning fosters tolerance is related to your comfort level when handling an unfamiliar situation. Most of us have dealt with cross-cultural situations; but, the question is, do you find such situations exciting or terrifying?
“Tolerance of ambiguity” is the comfort level a person experiences when tackling foreign situations. Some people have a high tolerance to new situations while others become nervous and it all goes back to language anxiety.
Have you ever been in a situation where you’re just at a loss for communication because you don’t speak a different language? Learning languages enables enhancement of one’s social skills, making a person more open to taking risks and being able to manage social situations confidently.
Fact: Studies have found that an individual who has higher levels of tolerance of ambiguity is more likely to be enthusiastic, resourceful and wouldn’t mind taking risks i.e., more entrepreneurial.
Languages shape the way we think and help expand our world perspective. The more you’re familiar with foreign languages, the more you build tolerance. From helping you efficiently deal with anxiety in social situations to bringing an entrepreneurial spirit into your life. Today, appreciating different cultures and why they exist is crucial to understanding and respecting our increasingly globalized world. This is how you would gradually develop tolerance towards various beliefs, views, and lifestyles.
Broaden your understanding of cultures around you. Start learning a new language!
About the Author: Randa A. Loves experimenting and being creative with food and recipes. She is passionate about nature, learning languages, and exploring different cultures. Randa speaks English, Arabic, and some Spanish.