More than a billion people worldwide are currently learning a foreign language. Some do it to understand their partner’s or loved one’s native tongue, some do it because they want to move to a different country.
But while everyone has different reasons for learning a new language, there are universal benefits that come with it. Besides getting to know different cultures and developing new ways of thinking, learning a new language has more surprising benefits that you may not know.
If you need a little push to finish your language lessons, or just interested in what you can gain from learning a new language, read on and enjoy the ride!
Language learning protects brain health
When you’re learning a language, you’re dealing with a new system of rules, structures, and lexis. This means your brain will need to cope with that complexity by making sense of the new patterns. Medium’s feature on language learning and how it affects the brain explains how it transforms the mind. Perhaps the obvious benefit would be improved working memory, focus, and attention. After all, you’ll subconsciously be managing the interface between languages so you don’t end up code-switching. Learning another language also lowers your risk of developing neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s. This is because language learning utilizes all areas of the brain, keeping it active.
Language learning may improve decision-making skills
More research is actually needed in this aspect. But a study on Frontiers in Psychology suggests that thinking in a foreign language can generally help you make more rational decisions. This is called the “Foreign-Language Effect” — which is when a person who actively thinks in their non-native language is less likely to be emotionally involved in a problem they’re facing. This is because thinking in a foreign language creates a distance that can lead to you making a decision that’s more thoughtful and less emotional. Another possible cause is that language nuances and regional expressions make a person give more thought to the right words and possible hidden meanings.
Language learning broadens job opportunities
Foreign language skills can give you a significant advantage over other professionals, with employers offering bonuses and higher salaries for multi-linguals. In fact, a post on international experts by Maryville University talks about the increasing need for multi-linguals to help various organizations achieve their goals. For instance, businesses may want to expand to other countries — and a product localization manager would need economic or social science knowledge to know if it’s feasible for a branch to open in a certain country and how they can attract new customers. These experts can also work with government agencies as diplomats. Other jobs you can get as a multilingual are translation, interpretation, and field research.
Language learning makes you a global citizen
Learning a language isn’t simply learning new grammar and vocabulary. Instead, Sage Journal’s research on learning language and culture shows that it extends into many other aspects — such as being introduced to the culture and cultivating relationships with other people who speak the language. This can encourage intercultural communication, which makes you more open-minded, and promotes a greater tolerance, empathy, and understanding of others. Knowing a foreign language also makes it easier for you to immerse yourself more in a country’s culture. After all, you’re able to easily navigate outside the tourist bubble to interact and connect with the locals. This lets you appreciate the culture more than if you didn’t know the language.
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What other advantages of language learning have you personally experienced? Share in the comments!