Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In search of the best quote about foreign language learning

We love quotes about foreign language learning. What can we do about it? It’s a weakness of ours. So we have thought: “Why don’t we put up a list of the best ones?”. No sooner said than done, here you are. Please, read them all. You will see why we love foreign language learning quotes.

We ended up with 14 quotes. A bad number, a number we don’t like. Your typical list post has 10, 12, 15… points: “The 10 best quotes about foreign language learning”, “12 inspiring quotes about languages”… But we came up with 14, so we have decided to get rid of two of them. Now, which two? We also need to figure out how to arrange them… Here’s our solution: the ‘ask the audience’ card. We are going to ask everybody in the school –teachers, students and staff- to vote for the three favourites: the most voted one will be the first, followed by the next two. This way we will be able to use this title for our next post, which will feature the results of our survey: “The best quote about foreign language learning”. Who can resist such a title?

Are you game? The more people join, the merrier. You can submit your vote (your three favourites) via Facebook, Twitter, or the comments sections below.

The results will be published in a few days.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” - Nelson Mandela, South African politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

“A different language is a different vision of life” – Federico Fellini, film director and scriptwriter

“To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world” – Chinese proverb

 “You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once” – Czech proverb

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going” – Rita Mae Brown, American writer

“To have another language is to possess a second soul” – Charlemagne, medieval emperor

“Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers” – Cesar Chavez, American civil rights activist

“Learning a foreign language not only reveals how other societies think and feel, what they have experienced and value, and how they express themselves, it also provides a cultural mirror in which we can more clearly see our own society” – Edward Lee Gorsuch, former chancellor of the University of Alaska

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and statesman

“You can never understand one language until you understand at least two” – Geoffrey Willans, English author and journalist

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way” – Frank Smith, American psycholinguist

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world” - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-British philosopher

“Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom” – Roger Bacon, English philosopher

“One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people” - Turkish proverb

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things” - Flora Lewis, American journalist

“Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club –the community of speakers of that language” – Frank Smith, American psycholinguist

“Learning a new language is like starting a new life” – Michel Bouthot, teacher and multidisciplinary artist

 “Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world” – Rumi, Persian poet

“Langague shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about” – Benjamin Lee Whorf, American linguist

“We should learn languages because language is the only thing worth knowing even poorly” – Kató Lomb, Hungarian interpreter and translator

 “It is literally the case that learning languages makes you smarter. The neural networks in the brain strengthen as a result of language learning” – Michael Gove, British politician

“The most intimate temper of a people, its deepest soul, is above all in its language” – Jules Michelet, French historian

Check out the Spanish version of this article


  1. Kato Lomb's book is so large and so full of quotable material; to have just one sentence from it is not enough.
    Whorf, too, didn't say just one phrase, he made a theory! (One correction: in his quote the word is misspelled "langauge")

  2. Thank you for your comment, Shinkarom. That book is added to our to-read list.