Language Learning for Empathy Building

cites article stating that
“…Multilingual exposure may promote effective communication by enhancing perspective-taking.”

Inspiring Critical Thinking and Community via Books, Lessons, and Story

     This article caught my attention, confirming my hopes on building empathy via learning at least three languages from different language families:

“In reply to: Dr. Arguelles says that we should all learn six languages that fall into four categories:

Langs 1 and 2.)  Classical languages of one’s own culture.

Langs 3 and 4.) Major living languages of one’s broader culture.

Lang 5.) The international language.

Lang 6.) Exotic language (for the person).

This seems to be in line with this Atlantic article “”

stating that
“…Multilingual exposure may promote effective communication by enhancing perspective-taking.”

So, yes, language learning does indeed build empathy.

Oh, and for me:   I am fluent, accidentally, in Spanish and French, and conversant (my writing is horrible) in Turkish, because I either worked or lived in Mexico, France, and Turkey.  I read Biblical Hebrew, and am learning modern Greek out of curiosity, so…

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11 thoughts on “Language Learning for Empathy Building

    1. Indeed: my Turkish students kept asking me, when I taught English in Turkey, why English grammar and spelling were as they are, and I had to keep referring to the fact that while Turkish is a very logical language, almost mathematical, which is one reason I like it so much, English is a hodge-podge language, born of the conquest of England by the Normans, who themselves spoke a rather varied form of French, which became the norm via the conquest and ” le rattachement du Languedoc” of Cathar country, aka Provence.
      Studying Turkish helped me understand their point of view, as language learners, while studying French helped me understand why France and Spain disagree so often:
      “Si” in Spanish is always “yes” (except for when it means “if”), and is the only word in Spanish for “yes”,

      “Oui” in French means “yes,” “Si” in French means “Yes, you are wrong!!”


      (I’m exaggerating only a wee bit: “si” is used in French to contradict someone who is denying what you are saying, so for instance, in “Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques” in the opening scene where father and daughter are arguing, she denies that a certain person is intelligent, and the father replies “Si, si.” as a way of saying “but, yes, he is!”)

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Aha!! 🙂 Do share, do share! What are some of your favorites?

          (Pour moi, c’est: “C’est quoi ça comment formation ?

          C’est … -Pasunmotdeplus nodds. C’est un formation d’attack.”

          Formation d’attack ? Attack de quoi ?

          Bah, comment ils sont placées, attack de nous.

          Attack de nous ?

          Aaaahhhhhh!!!! )


          From scene “Formation Tortue…”

          Liked by 2 people

          1. From “La grande traversée”: Ce sont des Thraces, qu’on aimerais suivre … ”
            “Il me faut un ours farcé de glouglous pour oblier la pomme des pirates”
            From “Le devin”: I have read that one in German. At one point Bonnemine says to her husband: “I have wasted the best years of my life on a fat boar”. That was so fitting for my first husband … 😀 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  1. Shira I absolutely LOVED this article. Also like you I accidentally fell into some languages while others were more deliberate. We might actually be soul sisters hehe. If you have time you should check out my article entitled “Flirting With Languages” where I attempt to explain how I ended up learning some of them over the years. So let me give this a shot and see how I measure up.

    1. Lang 1 & 2 Classical languages: English although I don’t really consider it classical anymore since it’s not “Old English”. I also attempted Dutch because of my in-laws & Greek years ago when I was engaged to a Greek
    Lang 3 & 4 Major living languages: I’m currently learning Yoruban since I recently traced my maternal roots to the Yoruba Nation in Nigeria. I think this is technically in the exotic category but since it’s part of my culture I must include it here. It’s one of the hardest languages by far that I’ve attempted to learn.
    4. Spanish: I picked this up accidentally because my daughter’s father is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico and I spent some time living with his family where English was rarely used in the household.
    5. International language: Portuguese & French
    6. Exotic: Like you, I picked up Turkish (mostly out of necessity while getting residency & to converse with my mother-in-law)

    On a side note, I would LOVE to learn Farsi as well. I attempted to include Farsi in a novel that I wrote some years ago, but it was impossible due to the script so now the Farsi language book just collects dust on my bookshelf. I’m all over the place with languages because I can bore just as fast as I fall in love with one so I’m not sure if I can properly place my language skills in a category. Nevertheless, it was a great read. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey, J’attends !! I mean, Jaton! 🙂

      I’ve missed you, Miss Lady! Glad to see you here, and glad you liked this post! And hang on:

      No Measuring!!! I should have said that to myself, too, but I was keen to see what I might have been missing: as a self-taught person, I always need to find and fill the gaps in my learning, which I should have made clear, so that folks wouldn’t feel a need to compare! Ok, back to your words!

      Yes ma’am, I think we might be ” soul sisters” -I just wish that I had stayed in Turkey until you got there, although I was way farther north, so we’d never have met, anyway.

      Yoruba: hey, hang on -how did you trace back to a specific tribe? My maternal (mitochondrial) is L0, and all I know is ‘East Africa’ but nothing specific!
      Which language family does Yoruba fall into?

      Oh, man, Kaynanalar!! 🙂 Did you ever see that show (from 2004) “Size Anne diyebilirmiyim?” -ugh, it was so popular back then, I hated it, but I learned alot of my Turkish then (no choice, actually, with friends forcing me to watch it with them, and then asking if we did likewise back in the US!!)!

      Hey, thank you for sharing, Jaton! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one in this language learning camp. Especially with Turkish, which I loved as soon as I met it! But I like mathematics, so I like the logic, though teaching English to Turks was frustrating for the same reason. I almost ended up teaching the history of the Norman Conquest and William the Bastard to explain to some of them why English is so illogical!

      Ok, let me go search for your “Flirting With Languages” article!
      Ah, Rumi, Ah!
      One day, I shall learn old Farsi, if I live long enough and find a younger person to whom I can hand off Project Do Better!

      Peace, Kiddo!
      S. Destinie

      Liked by 4 people

    2. JaTon, I’m not sure if you saw the entire post, since much of it shows in the reblogged version, but not all of it. About Project Do Better, the link to language learning with the project is explained a bit more at the end of this post, so if you clicked through, that means I didn’t explain it well enough.

      ” This is why language learning is part of Project Do Better.”

      Liked by 3 people

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