Author: A. Tenri Batara Pilla M.
“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way” – Frank Smith.
Being a child with Bahasa Indonesia as my mother tongue, learning English has immensely broadened my horizons. The impact I felt most during my childhood years is mainly on the social benefits. As a bilingual, I am better equipped to socialize with others who are also bilingual and more likely to befriend people from foreign countries with various traditions and cultural beliefs, therefore, developing a much more open-minded mindset and understanding towards other cultures. By dint of my experience, I would like to encourage you to take a closer look at the substance of learning English and having it as our second language, along with the benefits it offers the young generation for the future ahead. So, hopefully, by reading this article, you can then come prepared for the future, starting with the simple act of learning English.
Before we continue, here are some words of wisdom by Malcolm X, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow, belongs to those who prepared”; cliché as it may sound, but believe me, these words of his are undeniably true!
As we all know, English is one of the most prominent languages globally, with an estimation of 1.35 billion people worldwide exposed to it. Compared to all of the other coexisting languages, the English language is the nearest one to occupy the eminent status of a global language. What’s so funny is that the world’s population comprises approximately 7.8 billion people, and scarcely 360 million of them are native English speakers, elucidating that most have used English as their second language. Driven by its popularity, there’s no need to doubt the fact of it being the world’s first lingua franca (ELF), referring to the use of English as a common means of communication among people with different mother tongues (Enrich, n.d.). Although it’s well-known, the English language is still widely regarded as one of the most difficult to master, due to its unpredictable spelling and perplexing grammar.
Have you ever wondered why English is the “chosen one” amongst all other languages? Why is it so popular?
David Crystal, a renowned linguist, suggested that English emerged as the global language because of all the power of the people who speak it. This power was exerted by political and military factors, mainly by the upsurge of the British Empire (McGovern, 2019). One of the main mottos of the British Empire was to trade. They were engrossed in trade to the depths of English persuading its way to become the most dominant language of business in areas such as Asia and Africa. Since then, the role of English as the mother language of the scientific, industrial, financial, and economic revolution has come to its peak. In some countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, which were heretofore part of the British Empire, English is an official or semi-official language up to this time (LTC Eastbourne, 2017).
Another question may come to mind; Why is it so important? What’s the deal for me as a student?
The importance of learning English as a second language is simply by virtue of the series of benefits it proffers. Read through some of the benefits and gain motivation!
Benefit #1: An open gate to the world-class education systems
Having a notable English proficiency will open the gates of the world-class education system and establishments, which will, needless to say, guarantee a bright future ahead of you. As a student, the plausible thing you would wish to do after graduating high school is enrolling yourself in the most prestigious colleges and universities, whether you’re staying in or going overseas. It doesn’t matter, for English is a subsequent necessity in most educational systems. Although, if you aspire to study abroad, you’ll need to take international entrance exams like SAT, MCAT, IELTS, and TOEFL. These exams will assess and evaluate your knowledge and proficiency in the English language. So for those of you who have a higher level of English proficiency, this is your time to shine!
Benefit #2: Increases employment opportunities
Having English as a second language is manifestly a power move for your future. Proper English isn’t only about making sentences grammatically correct. It’s about efficient communication like presentation skills, negotiation skills, and interpersonal skills. This communication system is essential to the business world. Even more than that, simply speaking English may not be as sufficient as it used to be in reaching the dream career pathways you’ve always wanted. The 21st-century workplace is now demanding English proficiency along with critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. These competencies are the standard criteria that play a massive role in your employability. Soft skills such as cultural awareness, critical thinking, and learning agility are funneled through English. The process of language procurement and communicating with others in a second language ease the development of other skills. English skills are clearly at a premium, moreover, a crucial part of remaining competitive (Pearson, 2019).
Countries with a higher English Proficiency Index (EPI) are more likely to attract, retain, grow, and compete for talent. EF EPI stated that countries scoring high in English proficiency contribute most to the world outside their borders. Indonesia has an unnervingly low EPI, scoring only 453 and ranked 74 out of 100 countries. This problem is consequential and needs prompt solutions. Being the future generation of Indonesia, you are obligated to bring changes to your country and the world. You can begin with spending a tiny bit of your time learning English.
Benefit #3: Builds relation and connect to the global network of English-Speakers
One of the substantial benefits of learning English is that it enables you to connect with people globally. In the process of learning, you will most likely start to have a one-on-one interaction with other English speakers. In this era of globalization, the internet will be the first destination for you to connect with others before going elsewhere. You can begin with making friends on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Other than that, online gaming could always be an option. Interacting in another language can significantly extend your communication skills since you’ve understood how language itself works and how to implement it while communicating in various types of settings. These connections you build will lead to a global network, which will be instrumental for your future careers. Global networking comes with some benefits, such as having an international support group, increasing future business opportunities, and endless learning possibilities (Victoria, 2021).
What have you learned today?
English is one of the most important languages to learn, moreover to master. A tint of knowledge of the English language may lead to various benefits, especially on the journey of chasing your dream career. English proficiency has become one of our essential needs as students living in the 21st century. So what are you waiting for? Take a small step ahead by learning English, and thank yourself in the future.
4 Tips and Tricks!
Here are 4 tips and tricks that may help you comprehend this fascinating world of the English language:
- Watch movies, cartoons, shows, and Youtube videos with English dialogues.
- Actively take notes of unfamiliar vocabulary – create your very own dictionary.
- If you see any: Newspaper, Literature, Websites, or even Cereal boxes in English, read it.
- Listen to music and podcasts in English – it helps with pronunciation and vocabulary.
Saya generasi muda yang peduli literasi! Artikel ini ditulis sebagai bentuk serta EF Literacy Day Competition 2021: https://www.ef.co.id/writing-competition
Enrich. (n.d.). English as a lingua franca. http://enrichproject.eu/professional-development/24-english-as-a-lingua-franca
LTC Eastbourne. (2017, December 8). Why the English language is so popular. Retrieved from https://ltc-english.com/why-english-language-is-so-popular/
McGovern, K. (2019, March 19). Why did English become the ‘global language’?.. https://medium.com/english-language-faq/why-did-english-become-the-global-language-9bbc14b532cd
Pearson. (2019, September 13). English speakers get jobs, English proficiency attracts 21st-century careers. https://www.pearson.com/asia/new-and-insights/2019/09/english-speakers-get-jobs–english-proficiency-attracts-21st-cen.html
Victoria, E. (2021, April 8). The importance of an international network (whatever career you are in). Education First. https://www.ef.com/wwen/blog/language/importance-international-network/