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Languages in the Information Era Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by , Canada May 31, 2004
Culture , Languages   Opinions


Languages in the Information Era [ View this article in French ]
A language is before all a means of communication between individuals of the same population or the same race. Men started to express themselves with signs and illustrations on the walls of the caves, then the languages developed, and several are alive in the world presently. The evolution of the languages and their diversities are the subject of linguistics, a science of its own. But what roadmap are we following with languages?

Each one of us grows and intuitively learns the language or the dialect which is spoken around him. If he has access to education he will learn then how to better express himself in his mother tongue before anything else, while being initiated with the "good practices" in this language, i.e. its grammar, its orthography, its conjugation. The first sentences learned at school will be always engraved in our minds, as well as the quotations. Generally, after one or two years of primary education, teaching introduces a new language, the second official language of the country. Often pupils are encouraged to have correspondents (“pen pals”) in countries speaking this language. To be able to remove the barriers between civilisations and to discover other cultures is precisely one of the reasons to study a foreign language. By learning French for example, I discovered the French literature in all his states from the fables of Lafontaine to Molière’s comedies while being acquainted with the thoughts of lights such as Montesquieu, Rousseau and Voltaire; then Chateaubriand which with its " evil of the century ", Victor Hugo with his body of works and Emile Zola in his great “Human Beast”.

Learning a language is like opening a window on an unknown world, and escaping there to “live” its history, to see its beauty, to know its secrets, and to grow rich by new adventures.

Indeed, a language is a base of knowledge, a tool to open its boundaries. And nowadays, the base of knowledge is the Internet, where the whole world is available at with the click of a mouse. Nonetheless, language always remains an enabler of communication and a large asset in the era of information, with all its information and communication technologies (ICTs). Thus, several million Web pages in different languages are accessible on Internet and offer information of all types: science, technology, culture, and so on. But the difficulty which arises (in addition to those related to accessibility to ICTs in particular Internet) is that of the language. Obviously, if one does not have a command of the languages featured on the Internet, then there is the risk of being marginalized in this revolution which is the information society!

Let us return then to the language teaching. I remember that in secondary school (and even in primary education), our teacher encouraged us to work the foreign languages because the mother tongues would not be enough to follow its academic course since the higher education – except some specialities - is not provided in our mother tongue, which is Arabic, but in our second official language French. To master this language means that one could even go to finish his studies abroad - for most the ambitious. But it is not any more the case, since new technologies, which change our lives more and more require the knowledge of languages such as French or English. These two languages are among most present on the Web and they control at least some of the knowledge. This makes languages one of the factors of the Digital Divide; millions in the world do not profit from ICTs simply by the fact that they do not know certain languages.

When countries combine the ICTs with the teaching of living languages, this creates a convivial and original atmosphere, allowing for: introduction to the ICTs, cultural exchanges, and new knowledge. Others are still trying to cure the gap of the second language in order to have access to the ICTs and Digital Opportunities that come along with it.

If one wants to enter the knowledge society and to learn without limits, not to stop at the border of a language, a culture, and a single knowledge - in short, to remain at the margins of the rest of the world and all its enriching opportunities - we have to immediately raise the course towards a new adventure, into another dimension: to be bilingual, trilingual, until multilingual.



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You're right
Mraihi Marouen | May 31st, 2004
nice article Amel, it's very important to learn different langages and especially practice it to maintain and perform the knowledge level and to keep an openmind on all the foreign cultures and civilizations !

wajih | Jul 7th, 2004
What do u think of esperanto (the unified international language) ? kindly,

Mamdouh Osama | Dec 24th, 2008
thatnks for these enriching information, and for your opinion also

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