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How being bilingual has shaped my view of the world



Quote of the week:
“The knowledge of the world does not reside in the minds of old men, but in old books.”
 Rafael Martinez

You have heard it before. Your Spanish or French teachers have always tried to emphasize how "important" it is to learn a new language. They talk about the writing skills, the "great expansion" of vocabulary that you get, and the importance of communicating with the people of other cultures. Sure. That's something that you get when you learn a new language. However, I would argue that being bilingual isn't important because of any of these things.
click for link to image credit

I would say being bilingual is so much more than that.


Being bilingual opens your world to a new way of understanding things. Not just through talking to other people, but also through reading.

When I was about three, my mother gave me a book of short stories in Spanish from the famous author Rafael Pombo. These were children's books that contained valuable lessons. One of my favorites was about this tadpole, Rin-Rin, he didn't follow his mother's instructions to not leave the house  and he went to a party. Well, let's just say poor Rin-Rin got eaten by a cat... While for the rest of the year I was afraid I would die if I ever walked out of my house, it did make me a much more obedient child.
However, after that, I did not like reading.I really thought I never would.

International book fair at night, Corferias, Bogotá, Colombia
Later on, when I was about seven, my mother (hoping I would change my mind about reading)  took me to what is considered one of the most important book festivals in the world, Bogotá's annual book festival. There, they had books from all over the world! This fair was filled with books, graphic novels, artists, performances, and world flags in every corner. It was truly amazing to see how the world was connected by reading and literature.
The 2013 flyer for the book fair
Performers at the festival

Corferias, where the book fair is hosted
Later on, I learned English, and my love for reading was expanded even more as I expanded the possibilities of the worlds I could get to know. furthermore, reading in both languages has really helped me look at things not just in an American point of view, but also in a truly Colombian, Spanish, Argentinean, Peruvian, and sometimes even a Brazilian point of view.

This is why I really encourage people to learn a new language. Because there is so much more to other countries than what you can see in the news or in history classes. Behind every country lies a unique culture, that is usually better seen and expressed in the country's native language.



Comments

  1. Nice post. Great reasons to be bilingual. I am always interested by the ability of people like you to THINK in two languages, and to switch between them at will in order to better understand any problem that you face. Soooo cool.

    On format: Your post is congested and confusing. I would probably NOT use the GIF, because I couldn't even concentrate on the words because of it. And if you are going to have all these images. Better to break the text, rather than wrap the text.

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  2. It's sort of interesting because people tend to ask what language I think in, but when I think about it i honestly can't tell. It's kind of like a switch. Like, when I hear people talking in English I unconsciously start thinking in English, but when people talk to me in Spanish it is the other way around. It's weird. I will fix the format when I finish my next post though! Thanks Mr. Brewer

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