By Maddie Post, Staff Writer
“So how’s school going?”
I watch as my cousin Jake unloads the contents of his backpack onto my family’s dining room table. He’s a student at one of Philadelphia’s most well-known preparatory schools, and I’m not surprised as several classic books flop out of his pack, along with an algebra text and a Latin workbook.
Jake is a hard-working student. I tutor him in Latin, one of the languages at the heart of the English language. One last book falls onto the table: a Mandarin Chinese textbook. I look at the book with curiosity — it’s slice of modernity amidst a wealth of tradition.
“Do you like Chinese?”
“Oh, yeah. It’s my favorite subject.”
That is exactly what students and entrepreneurs are saying when it comes to mastering a modern language. Familiarizing oneself with classical root languages (Latin and Greek) is crucial for compiling an impressive English vocabulary. But learning a modern language is also a seriously needed in today’s global economy. This is one of the reasons why schools are offering more and more modern languages to supplement their liberal arts curricula, particularly Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.
What a Small World
The internet has rendered the world unarguably tiny. Social media, blogging, online journalism, even the seemingly archaic concept of email are all factors which have made communicating with our neighbors across the pond a three second ordeal. It is clear that the modern age offers various modes of international communication. The question is whether we will take advantage of these modes of communication through global languages.
Global Businesses, Big and Small
Modern entrepreneurs should — scratch that — MUST familiarize themselves with a global language simply because, thanks to the internet, many markets now bridge the global divide between consumers. ASOS Marketplace, Etsy, and even Ten Thousand Villages are international communities of entrepreneurs whose products are sold worldwide. These communities are also marketed based on the fact that the businessmen/women who comprise them hail from various points on our globe. Like individual entrepreneurs, big businesses, American and otherwise, have gone global. Red bull, Airbnb, Dunkin Donuts, and Pearse Trust are as global as corporations can get.
How To Go Global
So how can young entrepreneurs go global, too? Well, as far as language goes, entrepreneurs should immerse themselves in a different language as soon as possible. Rosetta Stone is a quick, painless way to gain speaking knowledge of a language. There are also many other language learning programs Global Language Network makes affordable. Embassies are another great source for discovering a language program in a foreign country.
Nothing is more effective than immersing oneself in a language’s native home. Walking the Camino in Galicia, Spain was the perfect way to built my speaking knowledge of Spanish after years of studying the language on my own.
A Last Word on Languages
Language is one of the millennial entrepreneur's most fundamental tools in propelling their businesses and connecting with their markets. While language is a tool, a means to a further end (communication), it is also good in itself. The spoken word signifies man's rationality and enables his relation to a broader world. A wise classmate of mine recently told me she was focusing on prizing words (rather than mere 'stuff') as possessions. "I want words, not things. They're so much more lasting." Perhaps the entrepreneur, as a member of the global economy, can learn something from this. Perhaps in learning a modern language to further his business ventures, the entrepreneur's real benefit lies not in the fruit, the 'stuff' of these ventures (which he'll inevitably lose), but in a knowledge of words which will never fade away.