The importance of a second language

Catherine Streng encourages readers that it is never too late to learn a foreign language.


| Cherri Yoon/THE CHIMES

Catherine Streng, Writer

The importance of learning a second language is more vital than ever in this globally connected and diverse world. Since Biola is located near one of the most ethnically diverse areas in United States, Los Angeles, it provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in several different cultures and languages in a single day.


However, Biola is not only located near a diverse area, it is an extremely diverse campus itself. Despite its small size, Biola contains many global students, faculty and staff. After walking into the Caf, you are served by Hispanics laughing at a joke they just told each other in Spanish while you awkwardly stand there and smile waiting for your food. Sometimes you pass a group of Asians speaking in their native tongue, while you wish you could even tell the difference between Mandarin and Korean.

Learning a foreign language allows others to communicate and also helps people develop greater cognitive abilities such as mental flexibility, creativity, and divergent thinking. The ability to speak a foreign language also allows someone to be considered for more jobs or even earn higher pay for a job than someone who does not have this skill.

We are constantly encouraged as Christians in Matthew 28:19 to “go out and make disciples of all nations” and we are reminded of Romans 10:14, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” Yet, how can they hear and understand if not in their own language? Even those who do not feel the called to go overseas will encounter others who are thirsty for the Lord yet struggle with the English language.


Do not become discouraged if you feel as though you missed the opportunity to learn a foreign language — it is never too late. Biola offers many language courses, including Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and German. If you have enough time or elective courses left, I encourage you to sign up for a language class. The skills you gain will aid you in the future.

If you are already taking too many credits, many language schools nearby, such as The Japanese Foundation, offer Saturday school or private tutoring. Online websites also allow students with busy schedules and small wallets to utilized their language skills. My personal favorite is Duolingo, which is free for everyone.

Immersing yourself in a language is the easiest way to learn it. If you are thinking about studying abroad, do so. Biola contains many off-campus programs for students that extend as far as China, India, Costa Rica and even Japan.

The opportunity to learn a language is within your grasp. Reach for it. 

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