Rotary Four Way Test: The Portal to Better Communication by Kimi White

The Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cites
Kimi White, First Place
Grade 11, Arroyo Grande High School
Teacher: Nicole Powers Principal: Conan Bowers

Many issues in our world seem to stem from a lack of communication. Communication is the key to building relationships and coming together as people of this planet. Learning second languages is the stepping stone to strengthening our world understanding. As a small child, I was always fascinated by foreign languages. Listening to my grandpa speak in Spanish sparked an interest to learn the language. I would sit in front of the television and watch Dora the Explorer, hoping that by the end of the episode I would be able to head into the world fluent, however that was never the case. Now, I have been taking Spanish in school for four years and am still learning. I believe that everyone should learn a new language because it allows one to participate in another culture. Following the rules of The Four Way test only confirms the benefits of speaking multiple languages.

The first question we must ask ourselves is, Is it truthful? The answer is yes. While knowledge is power, we must be honest in our abilities. For example, I tutor a 4th grader who comes from a primarily Spanish-speaking home. I try to use my knowledge of the Spanish language to help with his schooling. It isn’t always easy for him to fully grasp subjects, and sometimes he can become embarrassed that he doesn’t understand, so he pretends that he does. Being able to speak to him in his native language helps make him feel at ease and truly focus on learning the task at hand. His ability to jump from a first to a third-grade reading level validates that when he is honest and truthful to himself he can only benefit.

This can link to the second question, Is it fair to all concerned? Of course. People are more willing to work with each other if there is a fairness to the relationship. Everybody wants to feel understood and language barriers can sometimes confuse situations like Johann Wolfgang states “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”  If we expect others to learn our language it is only fair that we make an effort to learn theirs as well. After all, 56 million hispanics live in the United States. If you take the time to learn a foreign language you open communication with others, learn about yourself, and can make others feel that they have a more fair chance in the world.

The next question will it build goodwill and better friendships? has an obvious answer, yes. Learning a new language expands our boundaries. It not just about learning the language, but about the culture a language stems from. By immersing yourself in this culture there is an opportunity to create new friendships. Such as the family I tutor for. This past christmas I had the opportunity to participate in their tradition of making holiday tamales. This experience gave me a chance to learn not only more about them but about their culture as well. Being able to understand them and converse in their language enhanced my experience. The strengthening of communication that learning new languages can effect, can build goodwill in our foreign relations. Just giving the effort to learn someone else’s language will create a bond and is very important.

The next and final question, Is it beneficial to all concerned? Can be answered with yet another resounding yes. Everyone can benefit from learning another language because it can help in career choices, traveling and in daily life. As author Frank Smith wrote, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Learning another language gives new opportunities because you are able to know another world. Benefits and appreciation abound when we as human beings are willing to learn more about each other. Learning a new language is a difficult process that can take years to master, but the end result is worth the time. Next time you ask yourself if you should learn a second language, remember the Rotary Four Way test and answer, sí

Learning a new language is a difficult process that can take years to master, but the end result is worth the time. Next time you ask yourself if you should learn a second language, remember the Rotary Four Way test and answer, sí se puede (Yes, you can).

 
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