Monday, April 2, 2012

Teach me a language - but which one?

There has been quite a lot of discussion - in our education system and the community generally about languages. Or more specifically about making sure that our kids and grandkids learn languages that will be useful to them during their lifetime.

Many have been proposed - Bahasa Indonesia, Mandarin or one of the other dozen or so Chinese languages, perhaps even something interesting from Korea or Japan or Mongolia. There are plenty of spoken languages to choose from. And if you are good enough and work hard enough then you may eventually become a diplomatic translator. Woo Hoo.

But what is almost never considered are the *other* languages - these are the ones that will help your child grow and become a respected international citizen. It will also give them status and serious money - if they are any good.

These are the languages that you have probably never heard of - Ruby, Python, Java, Perl, and Lua - there are dozens to choose from.

And expertise in them is desperately needed for the next generation of software that is being built to control our cars, ships, aircraft, buildings and the tooling needed to make these things. Software is going to end up controlling just about everything - even if you haven't noticed Virginia.

It even seems as though an experimental - if buggy - version of this software has been controlling the Republican Presidential candidates in the US - which is why they are going to end up with a robot nominee called Mitt Romney. Just kidding.

The beautiful thing is that it is no harder to learn a programming language than it is to learn a spoken language - the resulting jobs are more plentiful and they pay more - a lot more.

So let’s get into it. Only problem is that few of our adults - either inside or outside of the education system - have even a vague blue clue about where to start.

Big hurdles to overcome with parents and politicians everywhere across the nation - because we have spent the past 30 years patting ourselves on the back for living in the Lucky Country.

Too bad our luck is about to run out.

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