Importance Of Learning Foreign Languages In Nigeria: The Portuguese Example

By Joseph Oluwaseyi Moyejoh

In any society of the world, language has been regarded as one of the vital connections that link humans. It acts as a channel through which ideas, thoughts, and feelings are shared among human. Most especially, language makes the world a global place to live in peace without being barbaric. This is why an African proverb asserted that the limit of people’s language limits their view of the world. Today, the entire world is now considered a global community, where no country can sustain in isolation without international relations. This explains why, in spite of the difference in races and cultures, every nation still tends to engage in foreign trade and global interactions. Meanwhile, the socio-economic interdependence and global alliances have necessitated the need to engage and communicate in a common language, usually a foreign language, especially in a multilingual nation like Nigeria. Therefore, the knowledge of foreign languages has become highly important in Nigeria and across nations that are known as the Third world Countries.

The term foreign language can be referred to as a second tongue of communication which is not typically spoken by natives of a specific society. According to Gbollie and Gong (2013), it is an unofficial language that has no general usage of interaction in one country, whereas indigenous to another. Globally, there are over 7,151 languages according to ethnologue. While languages are going into extinction, some other languages are growing their tentacles. However, other than English, the awareness of other foreign tongues in Nigeria is at barest minimum (Ozdemir, 2015). Prominent among the existing foreign languages in Nigeria are English, French, Portuguese as well as various Nigerian languages. Meanwhile, learning and mastering two or more of these international languages is extremely beneficial to the growth and integration of Nigeria as a country and Nigerians as individuals who seek global exposure, sophistication, integration and and business connections. However, Portuguese would be classified as a foreign language in Nigeria because it is not the first language, second language or major language in Nigeria. Portuguese history in Nigeria can be traced down to colonization and slavery.

One of the fundamental benefits of learning a foreign language such as Portuguese in Nigeria is that it helps to eliminate language barriers and misconceptions between Nigeria and other lusophone nations in foreign alliance or foreign trade. Olakunle and Oladunni (2017) opined that as individual mobility and relationships extend beyond borders, there is a rising need to promote the acquisition of foreign language knowledge as a bid to embrace globalization, promote international participation, enhance employment opportunities, and strengthen sociable ties with other nations across the world.

In addition, an American educator, June K. Philips, also affirmed that learning foreign language is a vital connection in the interdependent relationships of the next century. By learning a foreign language, it broadens one's perspectives of the world by opening their minds and exposing their experiences to other ways of life, because language deals with other aspects of the people's lives (culture, customs, religions and other ways). Without a shadow of a doubt, this can promote global unity and peace as it makes people better understand and tolerate other people across the world. Therefore, learning a foreign language is important and should be part of basic education, which, if adequately encouraged has the potential to liberate many Nigerians from confinement and narrowness in their ideology and imagination about the world.

I have researched and found out that a well learnt and mastered language will always be the property of the learner and would always serve their communicative and interpersonal purposes for as long as they live.

I wish to conclude this piece by stating affirmatively that the world of today is rapidly globalizing, and only individuals with knowledge of one or more foreign languages can successfully integrate themselves in the trend which is known as migration. A Student of Portuguese Language in Nigeria can always migrate to the Portuguese colony without having a barrier in the language of the people. Learning of foreign languages is important and relevant because it aids international cooperation, negotiation and compromise. It also fosters world trade among different countries which belong to different language family. By mastering a foreign language, individuals can obtain a greater understanding of foreign cultures and perspectives of reasoning. Therefore, only a persons who master foreign languages can bridge the gap between cultures and contribute significantly to international diplomacy and world peace and security. The cultures of the people differ a lot. But the understanding of one another's languages create a bridge that allows the translation of culture from one language to another. The bridging of culture with languages gives room for syncretism. A perfect example in Nigeria is Afro-Brazileiro which is also in Brazil. Afro-Brazileiro is the amalgamation of the African culture and Brazil culture. There are African descendants in Brazil till today. They preserve the language and culture of the Africans till date.

Foreign language reduces the rate of racism among people, forgetting about color or race. A Portuguese will always embrace an African that can speak Portuguese language because he will be seen as a brother. Language serves as a means of uniform or identity among people.

Oluwaseyi Moyejoh is a graduate of English Portuguese and writes from Lagos Nigeria through:

[email protected] 07041990434