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Empowerment through language

A short but interesting interview with a Brazilian teacher of English in Rio de Janeiro can be found here. One of the most important things he does is to empower his students through teaching a new language:

What have you learned? It’s not just a language that we teachers teach in a school. Teaching is a political act. We can either help our students overcome their problems or put them down through language.

Biggest challenge? To help my students become more autonomous and take responsibility for their own learning. I’ve been trying to empower them with critical thinking skills so they can see the world for themselves and form their own judgments about the quality of life they have now and what changes they would like to make in the future. (Source: The Guardian)

Most people learning a second language won’t face the same difficulties as children in a poor Brazilian neighbourhood. But it is important for us all to feel empowered through learning a new language – able to view the world differently and hopefully communicate with a wider range of people.

What benefits do you gain through learning a second language?