My 3 reasons of why learning and mastering English is totally worth it

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For most of us humans on planet Earth it's not a mystery why it's so important to master English nowadays: You need it for college, or to get a better job, or to keep your current job, or to travel, or to check articles and videos online, or to not raise suspicions once you get to the US as an illegal immigrant by hiding in a huge shipment of smuggled Juan Valdéz coffee, etc. etc. And sure, those reasons are valid... well, except the last one :P

But let's say you were trapped in a dungeon for the last 50 years without any contact with the outside world (and you had a voleyball named Wilson and everything), and that after being rescued last Thursday you are one of the very few who are not familiarized with why it's so important to master English nowadays. Or maybe you do know about the "supposed" importance of knowing English, but you are not convinced. Maybe you think learning English is kind of "overrated".

Well, whether you already know why learning English is so important, or if you are just getting to know why from the worst source possible (this site! :D), or if you know but English is still worth nothing to you, I would like to share with you my 3 personal reasons of why I think English is the best language you can learn. Who knows, maybe my reasons could inspire you to start learning the language.


Before we start... WHAT is English? And what's so special about it, then?


If you can read this article, then you clearly know what English is, and you are good enough at it to read this. If so, this segment is not for you.

This little segment is dedicated to the minuscule amount of Earth's population who doesn't know what the English language is, including newborn babies, Tarzan-like dudes brought up by wolves, and hermits that are just coming back to society. Honestly, if you don't know what the English language is you are on the same league as those who don't know who Mario is... but whatever. If you don't know what English is, we will fix that about right now! Here we go! (Yahoo! Wohoo!... ehh, Ravioli! Mama mía!)

And how would they be able to read this if this article is written in English? That's where you come in! If you master any language besides English and Spanish, you can translate parts of this article or the entire thing (or any article you want) and share it on your site. A link to my original article here would be greatly appreciated, but not required.

Anyways. First, English could refer to people and things that come from England, but in this context, English is a language just like Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and weeabo Japanese. Wikipedia kindly tells us that the oldest form of the English language originated in medieval England after a bunch of germanic dudes invaded them really bad, making the dialects of these invaders gradually take over the Brythonic languages the natives used to speak.

After some more invasions centuries later, and the adding of words from Greek and Latin into the mix, the English language gradually evolved to the language we know and love (or hate) today. If you want more detailed information about this read the full article about the History of the English Language on Wikipedia.

Nowadays, English is the native language of United Statians, Canadians, the British and Australians. Also, in countries like Guyana, China and India (and several countries in Africa), English is considered an official language even though it's not the native language in those countries (or the most spoken language, either). It is estimated that 359 million people master English as their native language, and that those who master English as a second language are somewhere between 470 million or 1 billion people (measuring that is a little bit hard, I admit).

So, what makes English so damn special? Basically, that English is considered the lingua franca of today's world. In other words, it's considered the number one international language of our planet. English is the language that dominates communications, sciences, I.T., business, entertainment and even diplomacy. And because of that, every non-native English speaker out there and their dogs want to learn English.

If you want to know even more details about the English language I invite you once again to check the respective Wikipedia article here.


Despite how important it is, you are NOT forced to master English


Now that we've concluded the previous exposition I can now focus on sharing with you why I think learning English really well (before learning any other language) is a very valuable investment that can help you a lot in your life. But the thing is... I don't know who you are.

To me, you are a total stranger. You are such a stranger that you probably use a hat and coat, and you have one of those vans that say "Free Candy"... but whatever, that's not important. What I mean is that I don't know what are your life goals, your internal values, whatever you like to do, and a whole lot of stuff that determine if learning English would truly be worth it for you or not.

Look, I will tell you the truth: Even though English is the language of the modern world and all that, if you make the decision you can live a very happy and productive life just with your native language. Your life will be a bit limited, sure – you will not be able to connect with people from different cultures, you will have access to less information, etc. But even then, if you really set your mind to it you can be happy and prosper without English.

Comes to mind a story I saw on a news block one or two years ago. It was about the owner of a Colombian shipping company called Servientrega. On that block they were interviewing the owner guy, and they even did a tour of his elegant house.

One of the questions the interviewers made to him was (translated from Spanish): "Mister (whatever his name was), is there anything you regret?" , or something like that. The answer was (also translated from Spanish): "I regret... that I never learned English." Y heard that and I told myself, "Wow... so that guy doesn't know jack in English... but hey, look at how far he got without the language! Cool."

I think you can also get that far even if you just master your native language, whether you build your own business or become one of the best employees in your work area. For instance, if your native language were Spanish:

410 million people speak Spanish natively, and about 90 million speak it as a second language (absolutetly trustworthy data taken once again from Wikipedia :D), so I think the probability of you finding resources to learn whatever you want to learn in your life, and finding clients and/or employers to hire you are in your favor.

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world (the third being... English!), so I think that if you don't learn English and you master Spanish natively... you will survive. Same if your native language is Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, German, Indian and many others. Damn, if you earn a lot doing what you do you could hire a translator or interpreter to deal with anything in English for you if you definitely don't want to have anything to do with that language (and that's how I think the owner of Servientrega deals with anything in English in his life).

Another thing is that you could dedicate your efforts learning a language different from English, and do your things in that language. Mandarin Chinese is growing a lot in popularity lately, and many people say this will be the new language of business. Or maybe a language like French or Irish or Arabic interests you more for cultural or historical reasons.

Or you could find interest in a language because of the content that culture produces (that's the main reason I was learning Japanese), or because you want to live in a country where a not-so-popular language is the main language. Or maybe you want to be less of a tourist and experience a certain culture more in depth, I don't know. Think about and evaluate these things and decide what language (or languages) different form English you would like to master, and then work to achieve it.

So, to me, in general, you are not forced to learn English. There could be several exceptions, like certain employers and jobs that require you to know English without exception (like a job that requires you to interact with native English speakers). But if you decide you will not learn English, and accept the limitations that come with it, I think there are many other possibilities for learning and working in the world of your native language, and also the world you could open if you decide to learn a different language from your native tongue and English.


Ok, now: My 3 reasons of why learning and mastering English is totally worth it


If you are not interested in learning English right now, or you just don't like the language... I invite you to give this article a quick read. Give English a chance, and you could change your perception of the language.

Now, if despite my previous exposition you DO have the desire to master English, awesome! High five... ehm... ¿Psychological high five? Hmm... let's just leave it at "virtual" high five.

Ok, so: If I hit my head so freaking hard that the module in my brain responsible to keep all the English I've learned gets completely erased (and I even forget what "Hello" is), but I'm so lucky that the module holding my Spanish skills is intact, then the following would be the reasons that would inspire and convince me to restart my English journey once more:


1. If you understand and speak English, you get the ability to communicate with people from all over the world who have also managed to master English


If you are a bit of a geek like me (ok, all right... VERY geek like me), then maybe you remember watching Digimon when you were a kid. I specially remember watching (in Spanish) a series of episodes of Digimon 02 where a lot of wild digimonsters start attacking various cities in the real world, and the Japanese digidestined have to travel all over the world to defeat them and send them back to the digiworld.

Let's say we are watching the Japanese version of Digimon 02 with English subtitles. Now, in one of those episodes we see Sora and Miyako (Yolei in the English dub) arriving in Russia with their digimon birds, where they meet the Russian digidestined Anna, Sonya and Yuri (Jerry in the English version). The Russian kids say their names one by one, and Miyako greets each one of them with a hug. Miyako, Sora and their digimon also introduce themselves... and that's as far as their capacity to communicate goes. The girls speak Japanese and the Russian kids speak Russian, so they end up in an idiomatic stalemate.


Then Miyako and Sora try to use their "hearts" (WTF??) to communicate... but to no avail, as expected. Then Miyako tries to communicate using the power of... body language! But that doesn't work either. At the end, because of something Sora mentions, it occurs to Miyako to designate the concepts of left, right and attack to the only words they know in Russian: Piroshki, Borscht, and Caviar (two Russian dishes... and caviar :P) Miyako manages to communicate these concepts using friggin charades again, and then the Russian kids and their digimon understand her.

With such a farfetched and rudimentary way of communication, Miyako manages to command her team and together they bring down the wild digimonsters and send them back to the digital world. (And after that the girls are almost run over by a bunch of mammoths, almost die from hypothermia, and at the end they end up crying and frustrated because they couldn't eat borscht... but that's besides the point, lol.)

The point of this geeky story is that the Russian kids and the Japanese girls would've avoided the unnecessary stress of not understanding each other and coming up with an attack system based on Russian food if they all just knew English! The girls would've arrived in Russia and Sora would've said like, "Uhmm... you guys speak English, right?", and Anna would've said like, "Absolutely! Of course we do!", and Miyako then goes like, "All right then! No time for pleasantries! It's time to kick some digibutt and chew bubble gum... and I'm all out of gum!" And knowing how crazy was Miyako in the series, believe me: She would've said something like that :D

The point is that for me, the ability of being able to communicate with any other person in the world who also masters English is... just awesome. With English by your side you can contact (and even make friends) with people from almost any country, not only with native English speakers.

If you know English you can learn about the culture, experiences and situations of someone who lives in Egypt, India, China, South Korea, Australia... "far away" places (that's relative) that you might never get to visit physically. They say experiencing new cultures opens our minds to new ideas and makes us grow, and I think that has a lot of truth in it. And one way of doing it is sharing with people from those cultures that you would like to know about... as long as you and them speak English.

In my case, English has allowed me to interact with many people who don't speak my native language (Spanish), which is always a nice experience. For instance, about 7 years ago I used to play an online game called "Expedición Holic" (players there were migrated to the English version of the game, "Cloud 9"). One time I met an Italian guy in one of the main towns of the game. The guy knew just a little bit of Spanish, and I knew no word in Italian. How could we communicate, then? English! Both of us would chat in English about our experiences in the game while some other players around us would just stay there with their arms crossed (metaphorically) without understanding a word. They would ask me what the Italian guy was saying, and I would tell them.

Some other times when I had to use my English as my only way of communication is when I lived in the United States as an exchange student for a year. The only way I could communicate with my host family was through English (they knew practically no Spanish). Also, sometimes the company responsible for the exchanges would organize special activities with other exchange students in the area. These were guys and girls from all over the world: Russia, Japan, Afghanistan, Mexico, China, Colombia. ¿And the only way to communicate with each other? English!... well, except with the Mexicans, as I cheated and spoke a bit of Spanish with them :P

I also have a female French friend with whom I sporadically have contact with via email. She knows no Spanish, I know no French (that might change soon...) Once again, English makes it possible for us to communicate. I've also exchanged a couple of messages with Tom from Antimoon.com. Tom's native language is Polish. He knows no Spanish, and I know no Polish. How can we communicate? English, baby!!

Also, thanks to English I've been able to communicate with a lot of people who speak English natively (mainly people from the US), both for business and personal reasons. But that would be me... what about you? What would YOU like to do if you had access to this skill? With people from which parts of the world would you like to speak with, whether for fun or for business?

Can you imagine, say, being able to meet and have a good time with an Egyptian girl, a Japanese guy, a Dutch, guy, a Swedish girl, and an Australian guy, where all of you are talking and messing around and sharing your experiences, all in English? Or can you imagine how it would be to work on a project with people from different countries and cultures, and being able to communicate with each one of them in English? Tell me if you don't think that would be cool!


2. English opens up the doors to an amount of content WAY bigger than the content that exists in your native language


Note: This might be wrong if your native language is Chinese, I'm not sure. But mastering English gives you access to an IMMENSE amount of content anyways.

As I said before, I think you can get by in a lot of areas even if you can only count on content in your native language to learn what you need. For instance, if you want to learn things that are very close to certain cultures, like learning how to dance Guapalé, or learning the intricacies of Israelite history, or how to make the ultimate sushi roll, then I think that in those cases the best content you can get to learn about those things would be in Spanish, Hebrew and Japanese respectively.

However, it's a reality that the amount of written and multimedia content that exists in English nowadays is way bigger than the amount of content in any other language (except maybe Chinese). For instance, according to Wikipedia 55.5% of all websites in the World Wide Web are written in English (I have no specific data on other kinds of publications outside the Internet though). In general, searching for information in English gives you a way higher chance of finding the information you need.

One situation where this is very true is when you are trying to do something in a computer program, or when you are trying to fix an error that you are getting. If you try to look up solutions in your target language you have to cross your fingers and pray to Arceus that maybe... just maybe... in some forum in your native language somebody wrote at least half a clue of what you have to do. But if you search about what you want to do in English, the probability of finding a solution is multiplied by 10. The amount of content in English on the Internet is so massive that chances are you will find someone talking about your problem on the first page of Google.

Also, English is the language of science and technology. It could be doable to rely on translations to your native language of publications about biology, engineering, chemistry, computer science, etc., and there might be some original publications about these topics in your native language. But the fact is that if you want to be able to access to the latest publications (fresh from the oven), as well as being able to access way more information (and more complete and more updated information) about the scientific or technology topics you need to research, knowing English is indispensable.

If you want to learn a new topic, whatever it may be, except something too tied to a certain culture, then you will be able to find the most information about that topic in English. Once again, a guide about how to make the best tacos from Yucatan just like aunt Martica used to make them will surely be in Spanish, and I can't imagine a video-tutorial where somebody from the US teaches you how to play "tejo" professionally...

So, what do you want to learn? Do you want to learn how to fix your own computer? Want to learn how to program on C++, or how to design websites, or how to use WordPress, or how to create Android applications? Do you want to look up how to play baseball? Or you want to learn how to take better care of your garden?

Would you like to build a table by yourself? Or practice chess tactics and openings? Or you want to know how to eat healthier? Or how to eat less healthy? (I'm looking at you, Epic Meal Time!) You want to learn how to play an instrument? Or how to skate? Or how to learn Japanese? Or maybe you want to learn how you can improve your life in general? Or how to start your own Internet business if that's your thing?

The Internet, and numerous publications like books and magazines and videos and documentaries and many other pieces of multimedia, are an immense sea of knowledge held behind golden bars, where English is the master key that allows you to access that world of information.

Thanks to English I've learned things that go from small and useful tips to concepts and ideas that have drastically changed the course of my life for good. I don't know if I would be doing with my life what I'm doing right now if it weren't for English.

If you know English, you get access to mankind's knowledge. Are you willing to forge your own master key to access it?

"Brute force can sometimes kick down a locked door, but knowledge is a skeleton key."

Jace Berelen – Character from Magic: The Gathering


3. English allows you to enjoy art and entertainment from English-speaking countries in the original language they ware made in


Before we continue... I couldn't resit including the previous quote, ok? To me, it sounds very epic, and deep down I think it's very right. What can I say... the world of MTG has a lot of interesting phrases :P

Oh, and speaking about geeky stuff and french fries, mi third reason of why I believe mastering English is super-duper has to do with the world of art and entertainment. Being hand-in-hand with the previous reason, being able to understand written and spoken English opens up the doors to a huge world of very entertaining works in English for you to enjoy in your free time.

If you only know your native language you are limited to consuming works originally made in your language, and some works that have been translated/dubbed in your language (where the original language is usually English... and sometimes Japanese). Personally, if I have the choice between watching a movie or show dubbed in Spanish, or in its original language (English), I always prefer watching it in the original.

I'd rather read/watch content in the original English because, to me, that's the best way to consume them. In its original language the works are in their "purest" form, with all their idioms and weird expressions in English that can hardly be translated into other languages. When a piece of content is localized from English into a different language, the dialogue tends to be affected, sometimes in very subtle ways, and sometimes in more obvious ways. And that takes away part of the "essence" the authors of the content intended to communicate.

Not long ago I saw an examples of this in the cartoon Adventure Time. For those who watch this cartoon, in the episode where Finn and Jake arrive to the citadel filled with crystallized cosmic criminals, the Lich makes his crystalline prison explode and disables our heroes with his dark powers.

As the Lich is walking on the water all Jebus style, going towards Finn to give him the death touch, the guy does a little monologue. Now, the thing is that part of the Lich's monologue in English left me like "wooooooooow". What the Lich says shook me a bit because of how true and original it was. Then I decided to watch the Mexican (or "latino") dub of the Lich's speech... pffttt, and they ruined the impact of that part (unintentionally, I assume).

On the Spanish dub the Lich says, speaking towards Finn:

Eres valiente pequeño. Pero es inútil desafiarme.

Translated into English that would be:

You are brave little one. But it's useless to defy me.

Pffttt, typical monologue of a generic villain. "It makes no sense to defy me! I'm a lot stronger than you! Mwahahahahahah". Bah.

But in the version in English, the Lich says:

You are strong, child. But I am beyond strength.

But I am beyond strength...

Wow. Megawow. He's right. The strongest being alive in the universe becomes meaningless when confronted with the power of pure death. No arrogance or exaggerations. Just the truth. Man... awesome.

Details like those tend to be changed (or get lost) when works are localized into other languages, and sometimes there are phrases and words that simply cannot be translated directly to other languages, so it's necessary to replace them with phrases that sound sufficiently similar.

Or sometimes the localizers translate a phrase without having in mind the subtle meaning it could have, like in the Lich's speech. That's why I prefer to consume content in the original English: That way I don't miss any subtle detail.

Now, despite all this I think that translations and localizations are good enough efforts to adapt works for audiences who know no English. They are far from perfect, but they do have their place – I'm no purist who hates translated/dubbed versions of things or anything like that. And also, shows, movies and books localized into other languages can be used as tools to learn those languages.

Another thing is that dubbed series sometimes include funny bits that were not present in the original versions in English (or other languages). An example of this are James' crazy phrases on the latino dub of the Pokemon cartoon. (And not for nothing, but... can you believe they are STILL making new episodes of that thing?! You would think that after 700 pokemons (SEVEN-FREAKING-HUNDRED!!11) they would've run out of ideas, but NOPE, have a keychain pokemon and a freaking washing machine...)

Anyways. For me, it's not the same to read all Harry Potter books in Spanish compared to reading them in the original English, or watching series like The Walking Dead, Lost and Breaking Bad in Italian or French compared to the original English.

To me, the original versions are better. Moreover, there are many cool works that have not been translated or dubbed into your native language... or any other language for that matter, and those can only be enjoyed if you understand English well. Who knows what you might be missing for not knowing English mwahahahahaha.


What are YOUR reasons to learn English?


Maybe some of these reasons to learn English made you say, "Hey yeah, knowing English would be pretty rad... I'm gonna try to learn it!". Or maybe you didn't give a damn about these reasons and at the end you've decided you will not learn English.

As I said before: If you really decide it you can live really well without knowing English, as long as you accept the limitations that that brings. You could even use some (or a lot) of the advice and tips I share on this website to help you master a different language, and rock with the skills you get in French, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, German, or whatever other language you decide to learn. Never feel obligated to learn English if you definitely, absolutely have no intention to do it. Fight and rock doing your own thing!

But if one or more of my reasons sparked your interest, then it's time for you to take out a piece or paper (or open up a text file... or get ready to "write" a mental note or something) and write down some of the things that you would like to do if you master the English language.

What would you like to do in English that you can't do right now? Watch a TV show, movie or cartoon that you've always wanted to watch in English? Maybe read a book in English? Make part of a community that revolves around a topic that interests you, where everyone communicates in English? Would you like to learn about something that you've found no information about in your native language? Meet people from other countries? Live in an English speaking country? Insult your native friends without being detected? Think about all the things you would like to do once you can understand and use English like it was nothing, and write them down if you want.

It's possible to learn English without any personal reason – to do it just because, or because you have to. But tell me if it isn't a lot better when you have your own reasons that encourage you to learn the language, to have your own motivations and goals that act as your light at the end of the tunnel.

More information:

Summary


Even though English gives you a lot of advantages, you are not "obligated" to learn it. If you accept and work around the limits of not knowing English you can have a very productive and satisfactory life doing things only in your native language, or in your native language plus a different language from English that you would like to learn.

English is the world language of the modern age. If you master it you will be able to communicate with people from all around the world that have also managed to master it.

If you know English you get access to a much bigger amount of information, knowledge and entertainment that you could have access to knowing only your native language.

If these reasons inspire you to learn English, cool. Even then, think about YOUR own reasons to learn the language. Think about how English can help you in your own projects.


Last updated: May 22 of 2015

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