To step into another culture’s shoes, and thus see yours from another perspective.
Of course it can increase job prospects, and yes, it increases other cognitive functions and prevents senility. It does makes travelling more fun, and it can open a window into other literatures in their original form… oh yes, and I also believe it can improve our understanding and appreciation of our own native language.
But more than anything, as we continue to live in an ever-increasing international society, we’ll need to be able to see outside of our own perspective and to be able to understand each other as best as we can… which is not easy to do if we don’t have the habit of putting ourselves into others’ shoes.
Or do you think there’s a greater reason to learn a foreign language?
Think I’ll ask my students and also wonder what yours would say!