I am not at all a linguist, but I am bilingual (a native speaker of English who learned Spanish in their 20s), and I suspect that the easiest explanation to understand for speakers of other European languages who want to learn English is as follows:
Most people think of English verbs as lacking many of the grammatical tenses, moods, and voices that are found in most Romance and Germanic languages. However, this has not always been the case, and Old English had most of the hallmarks of verb/noun inflection that we think of for modern European languages, such as declension of nouns, grammatical gender, etc. In fact, there are some echos of this that found their ways into Modern English. Early Modern English preserved a distinction between formal and informal second-person pronouns and a richer conjugation of verbs (see, for instance, the King James Bible).
In this case, I suspect that we are looking at one the last vestiges of the subjunctive mood in English. It has almost disappeared, but a distinction between the declarative and the subjunctive mood still exists for third-person singular subjects. For regular verbs, instead of adding an "s" to the end of the infinitive, as you would for third-person singular in the declarative mood, you leave the bare infinitive of the verb unchanged (which is the same inflection as for third-person plural declarative).
Suppose, for instance, that I want to warn you that you need to get to work on time. In Spanish, we would say "es importante que seas puntual" and not "es importante que eres puntual", in English we say "it's important that you be punctual" instead of "it's important that you are punctual".
The subjunctive mood also seems to have a similar usage in English as in Romance languages; you use it to express a normative judgement (e.g., "good", "bad", "important", etc.). For causative verbs, where you are hoping/forcing/wanting/causing/asking/etc. someone to do something, there is a lot of variability: some of these verbs (such as "make") make the verb in the following clause take the subjunctive mood in this case (or at least are inflected the same as if they were in the subjunctive mood), while others cause it to take the declarative mood (such as "hope") and still others require you to use the full infinitive in the following clause (such as "ask", "require", etc.). I have noticed the same variability in Spanish (where some of these verbs make the following clause have declarative or subjunctive mood or use the infinitive).