A few months ago I was speaking in front of a crowd of American undergraduate students about my work with the Student Language Exchange, discussing the power and benefit of learning a new language. They seemed moderately interested as I spoke, but in the reception following the event, a group of students came up to me:
“Don’t you think there are more productive things we could be doing with our time? After all, pretty much everyone speaks English these days.”
Learning a new language is an enriching and rewarding experience. It opens so many doors, professionally and personally. And, in a society where only 18 percent of our native-born adult population speaks a second language, it can give us access to opportunities that our peers can only dream of. Multilingualism is not only professionally advantageous, but also improves mental agility, memory, and problem solving ability, and slows down the onset of age-related cognitive losses.
But learning a language is a commitment. It takes years to become truly proficient, and even then there will be yet more to learn. (I’m still learning new words and cultural references in English, and I’ve been speaking it since I was in diapers.)
It was so much fun speaking at TEDx a few months ago! Watch the video to learn more about why we need to reinvest in language education.
I am so honored to be featured on Swearer Sparks. Steph Yin did an incredible job of bringing our stories to life. Check it out!
This week, I had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Capitol to speak about the Student Language Exchange and my journey as a social entrepreneur. It was such an incredible, humbling experience. To learn more about the event, visit:
Honored and humbled to be featured on SEEED’s website!
This semester, I’m taking Bengali with the Student Language Exchange. Earlier this week, our facilitator Supriya showed us short segments of Bangladeshi Idol. The two segments couldn’t have been more different. One was of Srabon Kumar, a poor 19 year old boy from rural Khulna, Bangladesh. The other was Rubayat Sharmin, or “Samy,” a well-off 20 year old girl from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.