In today’s interconnected world, knowing another language is an essential skill. Aside from exposing you to other cultures and ways of thinking, science says that learning a new language might help you advance in your job and develop your brain.
Here are six ways that learning a language can help you open doors and change your life.
1. Learning a second language opens doors to new opportunities.
Knowing a second language is not just advantageous in the twenty-first century; in many circumstances, it is required for success.
The global economy is more globalized than it has ever been. As a result, many people, cultural practices, and communities are coming into contact with one another, an indication that several employers are willing to employ individuals who are well-versed with multiple dialects.
People who can communicate in more than one language are in high demand in a variety of fields. Employers in the United States advertised around 240,000 multilingual job openings in 2010, with the number more than doubling by 2015.
Many intriguing careers require the ability to communicate in another language, such as • Translator • Flight attendant • Social worker • Interpreter • Language teacher/tutor
2. Learning a new language alters your brain’s structure.
It was long widely believed that at a certain age, the brain ceased changing. Recent research, on the other hand, suggests that the brain shapes itself in response to learning throughout our lives.
Your brain creates new neural pathways as you learn. That means that when you study grammar or vocabulary in a non-native language, your brain works in a different way. Your circuits are being rewired to adapt and respond to new situations. This is a case of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to adapt and change.
As a result of new knowledge, settings, and stimuli, the manner in which our neurons interact changes all the time. We can keep these changes going by promoting them through study, such as learning new languages. That focus can result in other gains like:
- Enhanced learning abilities
- Stronger cognitive abilities
- Reduced stress levels
- Enhanced memory
- Accurate remembrance of information
3. Being multilingual makes it easier to multitask.
Bilingual speakers, according to science, have an advantage in terms of how their brains work. Bilingual people’s executive function benefits aren’t confined to the brain’s language pathways, according to research, but also include parts of the brain that affect non-linguistic cognitive control.
Mark Antoniou, a psycholinguist at Western Sydney University, Australia, explains how utilizing many dialects daily might boost our cognitive abilities.
In one study, individuals who spoke two languages showed faster reaction times than monolingual speakers during a multitasking task. The findings of this study imply that learning more than one language improves performance when performing two tasks at the same time.
4. Learning other languages broadens your horizons.
Learning to understand a new culture is one of the most rewarding aspects of learning a new language. Within your world, the technique might help you make connections and transform mindsets. Today, there are approximately 7,139 languages spoken around the globe, each of which is shaped by the cultures of the people who speak it. Those languages, in turn, aid in the shaping of those people and cultures.
Different cultures develop different ideas and ideals than those in our backyards, and we may better comprehend and appreciate our common experience by using language. Every culture has its history, traditions, customs, and beliefs, all of which may be accessible through language.
The languages you use have an impact on how you see and interact with the world. Words in English, Chinese, and Russian, for example, rarely exactly translate or equate; rather, they represent various systems for categorizing and understanding experiences. These languages (and others) guide their users to specific ways of looking at the world in this way.
5. Learning other languages helps you comprehend your native tongue better.
Knowing how to communicate in more than one language entails more than just being able to express yourself using different words. It’s also about how foreign languages can help you strengthen your bond with your native tongue.
6. Learning a new language can help with nonverbal communication.
Understanding how gestures, facial expressions, and body language play into the whole communication process is one of the most difficult aspects of learning a new language.
In some parts of Italy, putting your finger against your cheek during mealtime, for example, indicates that you enjoy the dish. You can do the same on both sides of your cheeks for a more out-of-this-world effect. Many Americans are initially perplexed by this because we don’t have an equivalent nonverbal expression in our own culture.
Consider the “Touchability Index,” which assesses Europeans from various countries according to how they prefer to be touched during regular communication. Finnish people are at the top of the list, while Britons are at the bottom. Knowing exactly when to shake hands, bow, or kiss someone on the cheek is crucial to knowing how a language is used in a cultural context.
Learning specialized gestures and nonverbals for the language you’re learning can help you make significant progress toward communicating effectively without using words, both in your original language and in your new one.
Unleash your full potential
Few things challenge the brain as much as learning a new language, but nothing compares to the confidence of speaking your new language without hesitation for the first time—call it the bonus 7th perk!