HomeNews & Views Connecting Across Cultures: A Future Educator Speaks to the Value of Language Learning

Connecting Across Cultures: A Future Educator Speaks to the Value of Language Learning


Casey earned her Bachelor’s degree in Arabic Language and Literature from Hampshire College, and she’s currently at working on her Master’s in Teaching Arabic as a Modern Foreign Language at Boston University. Why does she believe that language learning is important?

In her words:

Every so often, I come across a post on social media that is titled something like “10 Untranslatable Words in English,” detailing ten words in different languages that native English speakers can’t immediately understand the connotations for. As a heritage speaker of Korean, and as someone who has always studied a foreign language, sometimes I understand these words, and sometimes I do not.

Sure, words in other languages are cool, but what would it be like to actually understand the heart and meaning behind all of these words you found in an article on social media?

For me, words that are untranslatable to English show a different way of thinking. Formally, and for varying amounts of time, I’ve studied Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Latin, Russian, Modern Standard Arabic, and a few Arabic dialects. Studying each of these languages has given me insight into how the world works from a different perspective than mine.

My name is Casey Chon and right now I’m studying to become an Arabic teacher. Growing up bilingual, being able to study different languages, and the prospect of teaching a language has changed my life. The world is so big and the omnipresence of digital media has made it easier to connect to people living anywhere in the world. Cross cultural connections are so important, but how can you connect with someone if neither of you share a common language?

Casey portrait at the beach

If you’ve never learned another language before, the Internet is truly a godsend in how simple it is to find resources for so many languages of the world. You can take online courses, join clubs, connect with a native speaker, or even use an interactive website/app to jump start your language learning process. Learning a language will open up new connections and maybe even a new life path. Don’t know where to start? Go to any one of the ACTFL or Lead with Languages social media channels and see what languages are in the news, what people are doing with their language skills, and how schools are incorporating language into their curricula. Find a language you’re interested in and see where that takes you.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll even become a language teacher one day.

Check back here for more updates from Casey’s journey to becoming a language educator, and see her “Ask Away” profile for a video and even more of her story!