Learning a new language can open up a student to new or different ways of thinking. In my own case, learning Italian and German helped improve my understanding of English grammar and revitalized a love for reading that I had thought I’d lost after watching too much television. However, once I’d taken on the challenge of learning new languages, and especially after I moved to Germany in 1983, reading itself returned to me. I started reading obsessively in German, and then words written in English took on a significance for me again.
During the process of learning German, after I’d somewhat mastered gender and case, the difference between the character of the German language as opposed to English fascinated me. One can understand why etymology (or the history of words) was so important to a German philosopher like Heidegger when you get a sense of how compound words operate in German. For example, the German word for passion is ‘Leidenshaft’ which literally translates into ‘pain creation.’ I think that’s very interesting. Also did you know that that the seemingly nonsensical word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious that Julie Andrews sings about in the movie Mary Poppins is a German word (Superkalifragilistigexpialigetisch) that means “excellent?”
All of this is my way of saying that learning a new language is a way to open up to the world. Our minds and brains never stop learning and changing, and as frustratingly difficult as learning English or any other new language can seem, the process can also be rewarding in unexpected and deep ways.