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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Learn a Second (or Third or Fourth) Language?

In my last post, I talked about the advantages of taking a mission trip. One of the points was being more aware of languages and the importance of enabling your children to learn a different language from their mother tongue.

Did you know that most people in the world speak more than one language? We have a group of African Christians in our church. Every single one of them speaks two languages, and some know as many as four tongues fluently. A child seven years old in our church (Her parents are from two countries.) speaks four languages very well and keeps them all straight. Her parents often take her on trips, and she always picks up words in other languages while away. Another child in our church knows three languages well and is learning English as her fourth. Most people in Europe speak at least two languages.

Languages are the keys to communication. Wherever you are, and whether you can hear or are hearing impaired, you communicate through language. Other people talk to you using a common tongue. If you know another language besides your mother tongue, you can communicate with more people. If you know several languages, the doors for communication—and jobs, and ministry—swing wide open.

I personally feel that everyone can enable their children to learn some foreign tongue.

Let’s use the example of French. If your child could speak French, he could communicate with people in 33 countries and territories where French is the official language or one of the official languages. He could adapt his French to speak Creole or other dialects. He would have a global outreach, as French is spoken in Europe, North America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Knowing Mandarin Chinese will help your child talk to over one billion people, about one fifth of the world’s population.

Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German, and Portuguese (besides English) make up other major world languages. Knowing any one of them will open doors of opportunity and ministry.

Do you speak more than one language?

Are you enabling your child to learn a second (or third) language?

Catch the vision!

The Lord Jesus Christ spoke at least two languages: Aramaic and Hebrew, and many believe He also knew Greek.

The apostles were gifted with the ability to speak foreign languages so that they could spread the gospel in the days of the early church. (See Acts in the Bible.)

Languages make missions possible. Without the ability to communicate in other tongues, the work of Adiniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, and David Livingstone would have been meaningless. Some of these men translated the whole Bible into other languages. We owe so much to Tyndale and Wycliffe, who gave us the English Bible so many years ago. Bible translators have been busily translating the Scriptures into hundreds of languages, even little-known tribal tongues, so that people can have the Bible in their heart language.

Have you ever thought about the value of knowing another tongue?

Have you thought how advantageous it is for your child to learn something else other than his heart language?

Please leave a comment if you’d like to share an opinion on this subject. 


  1. I've heard that it is quite easy for children to learn a second language. What a wonderful life skill to have!

    1. Oh yes, our own learned one by ear and one studying in addition to their mother tongue. Our daughter doesn't even have an accent! :o)

  2. Si, si que lo he pensado. y ya que no tengo hijos, intento que mis sobrinas y mis hermanos pequeños, se den cuenta de la importancia que tienen para su futuro. Por eso intento de vez en cuando, practicar un poco con ellos, haciendo lo un juego que es como mejor aprenden.
    Bendiciones. :o)

    1. Sí que es muy importante y abre puertas. Haces bien en animarlas. (Yes, it's important and it opens doors. You are doing well to encourage your nieces.)


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