Learn Another Language
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The PHP community is a global community composed of software developers, writers, translators, support specialists, speakers, and teachers. It’s more than just PHP core. The PHP Community consists of projects like Laravel, Symfony, WordPress, Drupal, and Craft CMS – just to name a few. While the source code is written in English, it’s just one aspect of these projects. These projects are built on contributions from people around the world, who are writing and speaking about and sharing their love of PHP with others. They’re able to do this, through their knowledge of other languages. It’s their bilingualism that enables them to share their knowledge – beyond the English only audience.
Many Reasons to Learn a Language
It’s possible to go your whole life speaking a single language – particularly if that language is English. People do it all the time. Yet there are many more people, who have learned a second language, to varying degrees of ability. English is the language of business, as well as technology, which is why so many people learn it as their second language.
There are many reasons to learn a language. It’s a powerful thing when you connect with someone in their language. It’s a demonstration of respect. But more importantly, it can open up your possibilities to a much wider world. So if your first language is English, you should consider learning a second language. If you were to read some articles about why you should learn another language, these are some of the reasons, that will likely be mentioned.
- Connect with people
- Advance your career
- Enhance your brain health
- Deepen your connection to other cultures
- Become more open-minded
- Speaking a foreign language makes you sexy
- Better understand your own language
- Improve your travel to other countries
- Consume content in the original language
- Boost your confidence
- Become more well-rounded
There are also some unexpected benefits. One benefit I’ve noticed through learning Spanish is better understanding why Spanish speakers say things a certain way when they speak English. It’s like a light bulb, turning on in your brain. I’m far from proficient in Spanish, but it’s very motivating when you make these discoveries while you’re learning a language.
Multiple Programming Languages
Throughout our experience as developers, we’re encouraged to learn other coding languages. In part, it’s because a given programming language is best for certain types of applications. However, we also learn that other programming languages give us exposure to different types of problems and alternative ways to express our ideas in code. Speaking another language can give us similar benefits.
What’s kind of funny, is you don’t normally hear about programmers touting the benefits of learning to speak multiple languages. But it would be great if they did! That’s something I’d like to see more of. After all, aren’t people the reason we create our applications? Knowing how to speak multiple languages provides you with the opportunity to connect with more people – more potential employers, more colleagues, and more potential clients.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, it goes to his heart” — Nelson Mandela.
Polyglots know that word-for-word translation isn’t a good idea. Automated translation is just as bad. While it can be helpful to understand the idea of a sentence, it’s a terrible idea to rely upon Google Translate. The famous quote “All your base are belong to us” is a hilarious example of translation gone wrong. This was used in the 1989 game Zero Wing by Toapian when the game was translated from Japanese to English.
Which language should you should learn?
With so many different languages spoken in the world – How do you choose? There are several factors you can use in your decision. One could start with what’s practical. How many people in the world speak a language? The higher the number, the more opportunities you’ll have to practice. The United Nations has 6 official languages – Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian, and Spanish – which they use to communicate. Each one of these languages has a significant population that speaks it.
Another consideration is: what languages are around you? What does “around you” mean? Perhaps there’s a language in your family. If your relatives speak little to no English, learning the relative’s language is a great show of respect. It’s also a great way to strengthen familial bonds. My paternal grandparents came to New York from Ireland in the late 1920s. I love the idea of learning to speak Irish, despite it not being widely spoken in the world. There could be language opportunities within your social network. When one or more of your friends or colleagues speak a language, it’s another opportunity to learn. Conversely, speaking another language is a way to expand your social circle. Perhaps your significant other speaks another language. This alone will provide an array of daily opportunities. Do you live in or near a language community – Chinatown, Little Italy? Perhaps something less formal, but still somewhat cohesive. When I moved to NYC, I targeted Queens as a place to live, so I could practice my Spanish. There’s a lot of language diversity in Queens, which bodes well for other language learning opportunities. Do you want to travel to, or perhaps move to another country? That’s an excellent opportunity to learn another language. What kind of food do you enjoy? Food and language are the two major parts of culture. If you enjoy a particular cuisine, being able to order in that language is great. Are you someone that values accessibility? Consider learning the sign language for your country. In the United States, Deaf and Hard of Hearing people use ASL (American Sign Language). I think even some people in Canada also use ASL but don’t hold me to that.
Since you’re a member of the PHP community, you may have additional motivation to learn another language. Do you have a hero in the PHP community? Learning their native language is a good way to create a bond with them. How impressive would it be, if you were to have a conversation with them in their native language when you see them next at a conference? I bet they would be quite impressed.
No matter which language you choose, you should know a language can’t be taught, only learned. Here’s a video with some tips to help you learn a language like a polyglot, from a talk at a language learning conference.
There are many benefits to learning to speak another language. We spend so much time learning programming languages, but sometimes, it seems like we forget that we write code with people, and for people. It makes sense that we should continue to improve our ability to communicate with people and widen the pool with whom we can communicate. It’d be great to hear about more developers learning another language. It’s a personal goal of mine to give a technical talk in another language at a conference. For me, that language is Spanish. Some people in the PHP community have already achieved that goal, and I applaud them for achieving it.
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