I heard recently that a foreign affairs analyst can learn everything she needs by talking to people on the street. She does not need spy satellites or phone taps. She can talk to the people on the street.
Much of our English news comes from English reporters speaking with English-speakers in countries where English may not be known broadly. The native filters his knowledge and thinking through English, which the reporter then filters again. Our knowledge is two steps removed from the people on the street who normally speak and reflect in a medium other than English.
If I get tired of how the US media report on foreign affairs, there is always another medium: the foreign media. I do not mean the BBC. I mean the local news, where the reporters think and converses in the same language as the subjects of their stories, where they live within the same dynamic as the subjects.
One reason I like to learn languages is because I can begin to understand what is going on in other countries without the multiple filters on the US news. I “Liked” Bashar Al-Assad on Facebook so that I get his news feed. I often get lyrical, militant posts, or Youtube videos of nationalist songs. I did the same with Sarkozy, and I get to see on my Facebook feed political rhetoric in French (which sounds suprisingly similar to American political rhetoric).
I can learn much more about my world that my media can’t convey. I can circumvent the media–how political!
- Languages that are easy, medium and hard to learn for an English speaker (learningenglishmyway.wordpress.com)
- Where Theory Meets Practice: Using Language To Help Make the World a Better Place (danielhieber.com)