10 Reasons to Learn a Second Language

Mar 4, 2019 by

Languages are taught in most schools across the country. Spanish and French top the lists. While some students (and parents) disagree on the need for languages in school, there are some undeniable benefits to learning a second language. It’s not just about communicating with people from other cultures and backgrounds. There are basic educational benefits that stem from the process of learning another language. Still not convinced? Keep reading for 10 reasons to learn a second language.

1. Improves Memory

Forgetfulness is common among most people. Whether your short term or long term memory is lacking, learning a second can language may help. Did you know that your memory falls under the category of “use it or lose it”? Like any other muscle in your body, if you don’t put your memory to work or challenge it, it will slowly fade away. Learning a new language requires you to reach back in your memory for basic vocabulary, language, and grammar tools while also learning and memorizing new ones. You then apply this knowledge to the new language. This is great exercise for your brain and may even help you recall places, people, names, and figures.

2. Understand Other Cultures

This is the main (and most common) reason why people want to learn a new language. Understanding different cultures, both in terms of communication and lifestyle, is a great reason to learn the language. Language is one of the most direct connections to other people and cultures. Learning a native country’s language helps you to better understand and appreciate their religion, traditions, history, and the people. These feelings quickly morph into acceptance, tolerance, and even empathy.

3. Advance Your Career

Being bilingual or multilingual makes you a much more attractive candidate when it comes time to apply for a job. More and more business relations and deals are being done on a global scale. If you’re able to communicate in a different language, it also means you can foster relationships and make connections internationally. This is an invaluable attribute for most companies. Now more than ever employers are actually listing “bilingual” as a job requirement or preference on job postings. You may even receive a bonus or higher salary thanks to your language skills.

4. Boost Brain Power

We already covered that learning a new language can help improve memory, but overall brain function can also benefit from being bilingual. You’re introducing your brain to an entirely new set of language principles, rules, techniques, and skills. Your brain needs to absorb these patterns and apply them. This leads to strengthened problem solving and cognitive function as your brain adjusts and uses these newfound skills. Another positive side-effect is boosted confidence and a more well-rounded personality.

5. Ability to Travel

If you’ve ever been to a foreign country you’ve probably seen the typical tourist — binoculars around the neck, a map in hand, and a cheat sheet or guide to the land’s language sticking out of their napsack. While these books are helpful for learning basic words and phrases, wouldn’t it be better to fully understand and be fluent in the language of the region? Learning a second (or third, or fourth) language makes traveling easier and much more exciting. You may not be mistaken for a native but you’ll be able to more easily integrate with them and get the most out of your experience.

6. Keeps Your Mind Sharp

It’s been said that people who speak multiple languages are more aware of their surroundings and better able to multitask. If you’re not used to multitasking, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Because those who speak more than one language learn to slip from one to another, it trains the brain to more seamlessly switch from one subject to another. This helps strengthen multitasking skills and may even reduce stress associated with juggling too many thoughts or projects at once. Multilingual individuals are also great observers. They need to be, after all, to hone in on what’s important and eliminating what’s not while learning a second language. This also helps to identify and pick out misleading or irrelevant information.

7. Helps You Learn Additional Languages

Why stop at one or two languages? Once you’ve mastered your second language, it’s easier to learn a third, fourth, or fifth. That’s because you’ve already done the leg work of training your brain to tap into prior knowledge about vocabulary and language and use that to absorb new information. In certain instances, language principles also overlap, making language acquisition easier each time. If you already know English and Spanish, you can learn French here. And after that, why not explore German, Mandarine, or Portuguese?

8. Expands Vocabulary and Communication Skills

Vocabulary is the foundation of all language. And language is used to communicate When you only know one language, you’re limited in terms of expanding on these two important skills. But bilingual learners benefit from expanding on their current vocabulary and creating a clearer, more concise message. You become more comfortable navigating concepts like comprehension, sentence structure, idioms, grammer, and comparisons. Not only can learning a second language help you communicate more efficiently but it may also help you become a better listener. That’s because you’ve learned to listen more carefully for the sound and meaning of certain words of phrases and are more intune with subtle nuances.

9. Make More Purposeful Decisions

If learning a second language teaches you anything, it’s to slow down. You can’t rush this process. Learning a new language means slowing down and taking your time in terms of listening, interpreting, and fully understanding the meaning of certain words and phrases. The same goes for delivering your response. Before you speak, you pause and think about what exactly it is you want to say. What message are you trying to convey? This leads to more purposeful decisions. When you aren’t rushing or too quick to answer, you take the time to fully hear the question or thought before responding.

10. Gain Perspective

Perspective is priceless. Learning about others helps teach us about ourselves. And learning a second language is a great way to gain perspective on another culture and its people. Learning about other places, traditions, and practices helps you to reflect on your own. It gives you new insight and deeper meaning into your own life. This can help you compare your everyday practices to someone else and identify both the positives and negatives. And since you speak the language, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn from others.

Learning a second language is about more than just understanding what people are saying. It’s a complete experience that teaches you about yourself and others. Not only can it help boost your career but also your confidence and brain power. So, what are you waiting for? The hardest decision you have to make now is which language to learn first!

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