Learning another language should be compulsory in every school
Everett (Daniel)
Source: Aeon, 12 October, 2018
Paper - Abstract

Paper StatisticsNotes Citing this Paper


  1. Everett gives the usual set of “spin off benefits” for learning a second language, but these are common to lots of rival intellectual activities.
  2. The specific benefits are that learning a second language sheds light on our own native language, but mainly that it’s the best way into another culture.
  3. How a culture carves up the world is shown by its language. The example is of absolute directions (up/down-river in Pirahã, North etc. otherwise) rather than relative directions (left/right).
  4. Rather disappointingly, Everett suggests the investment of 2 years (full time?) – preferably immersive – may be necessary for fluency, and that this is what the learner should aim for. He says that if this is done early enough in life, there’s enough time left to reap the benefits. This makes it sound as though late-in-life learners have missed the boat (other than for the “transferrable skills) and doesn’t suggest that mere familiarity is of much benefit – though surely it is.
  5. There’s a potentially interesting link to one of Everett’s YouTube lectures on "Monolingual Fieldwork" (YouTube: Everett - Monolingual Fieldwork), which is mentioned in the context of language-learning requiring interaction rather than just textbooks.


For the full text, see Aeon: Everett - Compulsory School Language-Learning.

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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019

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