An Introduction to The Polyglot’s Paradox

By Jonty Yamisha

We live in the Golden Age of Langauge-Learning. Enrollment in traditional foreign language classrooms continues to decline. At the same time, there have never been more language-learning resources for those interested in learning a new language. There’s also never been a greater motivation to learn a new language in our increasingly globalized world. 

Yet, our world both simultaneously feels more connected and at odds with itself. Technology brings us all together, yet leaves many of us feeling isolated. The world grows increasingly complex, but solutions feel as though they’re just in reach. Political ideologies also seem to thrash about in the middle, making an already complex situation a confusing mess.

And because of all this, language-learners are in an interesting position.

The Challenges a Globalized World Faces

Anyone who speaks more than one language knows how it can bridge the gaps between cultures and ideologies by altering one’s perception of the world. Polyglots end up positioned between several cultures in this increasingly connected, yet polarized world. A world that seems to want all the benefits of globalization without fully embracing the concept directly. 

Ironically, despite the political discontent and opposing views, we live in an era of unprecedented peace and luxury. Globalization has lowered world poverty while making it easier for economies to trade and grow. And with every exchange of goods, people take one step closer together.

But something still feels amiss…

It feels as if even though more people are talking, fewer and fewer actually listen. Language continues to form barriers, hurdles that ordinary people somehow have to cross if they want to gain better insight into the lives of people they’re seemingly at odds against.

A Different World Requires a Different Approach

Inspired by a generation of travelers who share their unique adventures in their social feeds, more people grow intrigued by faraway places. Traveling is less about living your life at home in some faraway destination and more about connecting with the people who live there. And the key to making that happen?

Language. 

So, the world grows both closer and more apart. The obstacles are there. But there’s a desire to overcome them. And yet, learning a new language still feels like an insurmountable task to many. This puts the responsibility on polyglots to break down these barriers. 

After all, who better to show the world ease, the benefits, and the power behind learning new languages than those who are experts on the subject? Still, the current climate of affairs makes it a challenging one for a person looking to make a lasting difference. For anyone hoping to make a positive change…

What Is the Polyglot’s Paradox?

Polyglots find themselves in a very interesting situation. Their unique positioning in all of this opens them up to the Polyglot’s Paradox:

“How do you build bridges across gaps in a world that seems to be more connected by language, technology, and politics but also more torn apart by it at the same time?”

Over the course of this series, we’ll explore the causes and effects of globalization. We’ll also look at the role of the education systems play in trying to maintain the status quo. And we’ll dive into what’s holding people back, inspiring increasingly polarizing ideas. Finally, we’ll take a deep look at the role language and language enthusiasts play in bringing the world back closer together. 

Our goal is to find a solution to all these growing problems. And luckily for us, the answer may be something every polyglot would be intimately familiar with: the power in learning a new language.

Continue to Part 1 of the Polyglot’s Paradox