TED Conversations

Audrey Misiano

French and Spanish Teacher, Life-long learner, Teacher - high school

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Mark Pagel asks: Can we really afford to have all these different languages in this modern globalized world?

As a teacher of French and Spanish, and lover of world languages and cultures, what does this mean for my profession and my passion for language learning? I believe learning more than one language is beneficial in many ways for our brains and for our overall literacy. I understand the economic and cooperative advantages that speaking only one language would afford us...but at what cost to multicultural awareness?

What if we all learned our native language and a common language starting at birth or in the first year of school? Or if we all were multilingual?


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  • Aug 12 2011: I think its a horrible idea to put all our linguistic eggs in one basket and decrease the richness and diversity of the human tapestry simply because our current economic strategy is globalization. I personally think economic globalization is a horrible idea for exactly the same reason. Culturally, politically, and economically, we are reducing diversity as well. While that has obvious benefits for some few, (in the short run, anyway) I think its a very bad decision for the species. We are much better served by having various competing strategies so that they dont all collapse like dominoes if something goes wrong.
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      Aug 15 2011: Is it really a decision?
      • Aug 18 2011: It is definitively a decision on the part of some. It is a conscious decision, being implemented consciously, deliberately. If its not a decision we (the worlds common people) approve of, we need to inform ourselves on the issues, and the players, and exercise democracy to block it.


        The problem is, that even the people pushing for economic globalization dont understand fully the implications of it. These are the same people, with the same economic theories that have led America to economic disaster. But look at a key argument in this speech FOR globalization. "If we dont move forward, we will fall over." (Bicycle theory)

        Years ago, I argued that that was ridiculous logic, and I do again today. If you are on a bicycle, yes, sometimes it is painful to fall over. But it isnt always in your best interests to press forward to avoid falling over. Particularly when you are heading full speed towards the edge of a cliff.

        An economic system that requires growth to stay viable in a closed system like the Earth, is a bicycle speeding towards a cliff edge. Its impossible to maintain growth indefinitely, and we are nearer to the edge of that cliff than most people want to know.

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