If you’ve been following language learning related news through social media, you probably noticed articles such as this one: America Has A New Language or Should Students Be Able To Take Coding Classes For Language Credits? There are has been some discussion about the importance of coding as technology advances, but can we really rely on online translators to communicate with others who don’t speak our native language?
The answer is no.
Which begs the question:
Are Programming Languages Really Languages?
They are a set of codes used by programmers to create instructions in order to enable a device (ex: A computer, iPhone App, Website, etc.) to execute what the programmer or computer user wants.
One could define these as languages for your computer but these are not something you communicate with each other with. Electronic devices such as the iPhone
or the Amazon Kindle Fire
are incapable of expressing their own unique individual thoughts or feelings. They do as they’re told because that’s how they are programmed.
Have you ever noticed when an endangered language finally goes extinct, the culture dies along with it? There’s seems to be something more to the language than being a means of communication for specific group of people. Think about the unique names for foods (ex: tapas, sushi, döner, spaghetti, etc), traditional clothing (kimono, bunad, kokoshnik etc.), and untranslatable words and phrases (either unique to the language itself, regional dialects or ethnic group) to list a few examples.
Coding is simply limited to being programmed by someone to carry out protocols they initiate based on the how the programming functions. It does not have a unique culture and can only be used for creating innovative ways of making technology more convenient for the rest of us. Thanks to these programming languages we are able to have mobile apps to make language learning even more effective than ever before.
Do people really think that learning a language so incredibly difficult that coding would be easier? As someone who is learning how to code myself, I would say it’s even more difficult to learn how to code than it is to learn another language. But then again, it depends on which language or programming language you are learning that determines how difficult it’s going to be.
Two Different Skills But Incredibly Useful
Comparing learning Russian with learning Python is like calling a orange an apple. At the end of the day it’s still going to be an orange. Learning both of these skills will be marketable and you will definitely benefit from learning each of these. But is learning one really more important than the other? This just sounds like another poorly executed attempt to decrease the actual importance of multilingualism.
These credit driven students have been looking for ways to avoid learning another language and it appears technology seems to be their latest victim. If you don’t want to learn another language then don’t but, don’t use technology as a way of replacing something meaningful to a massive population.
While it may seem like a large amount of people are learning English, they are (usually) only learning it for economic benefits. English is only one of the current lingua francas at the moment. People have learnt French, German, and Russian in the past because of this very reason.
It makes you more culturally aware of the world outside of your own native language. Many international companies actually require you to be multilingual in certain languages or you will not even be considered for the job. If you want to work abroad, being multilingual can open the door to a career within your desired field of expertise.
If you want to increase your international presence with your coding, why not learn another language or two?
What Do You Think?
Do you think coding should replace language learning or do you think they each have their own useful benefits?