"Oh, I'd really like to learn other languages, but"…
The sentence after the 'but' doesn't really matter. A great percentage of native English speakers that wish to learn other languages never do because the process is too rigorous. During high school, every student is taught some other language, but they never really learn it on a conversational level. Their Spanish or French is just good enough to pass the exam. And, we're here to explain why that is costing you.
This post will try to communicate all the good reasons why people like to learn some other language. Sure, it's difficult and will be really tough at first, but it's possible and there are quite a few advantages that come from it. So, without further ado, let's get right into some of the best things that come out of learning a second language.
Delaying Mental Disorders
Obviously, doing something so mentally challenging will have certain benefits. And, in this case, learning a new language will delay mental diseases for multiple years. These mental problems include severe diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's. Multiple studies have proven that the mental efforts required to learn a second language prevent mental problems in later stages of life.
The researchers factored in things like education level, income level, gender and physical health. But, regardless of the factors, the results were consistent and showed that in monolingual adults, Alzheimer's usually starts at the age of 71.4 (that’s the mean age). But, when the researchers averaged the age when multilingual speakers started suffering from the same disease, the results showed that they were at a mean age of 75.5. That’s a four-year difference!
Employers Love Multilingual Speakers
If you're a person that's lying on your CV about how you're an expert at playing the harmonium and can speak fluent Mandarin, just skip this step. But, for all those people that are willing to gain an advantage over some other applicant that literally has the exact same qualifications, then languages are the way to go.
Speaking a foreign language makes you a great choice in the eyes of employers. They just love hiring folks that can converse in multiple languages. Multilingual people can help a company advertise to foreign nationals as well as make communication easy when a certain foreign businessman or businesswoman is on the premises. With today's economy, every company is trying its best to get into newer markets and get a wave of fresh customers, and employers think of multilingual employees as pure gold. So, if you're trying to get a job in a huge international firm, learning one (or even multiple) foreign languages might just be what you need to land that job.
Great for Frequent Travelers
"The limits of your language are the limits of your world".
– Ludwig Wittgenstein, Australian Philosopher
This line by Wittgenstein couldn't be more right. You can visit a country and see its sights, but you can't immerse yourself into its culture without speaking the language that the locals speak. Sure, you can go to Italy, stare at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, wonder how it's still standing and fly back home and call it a great vacation. But, if you truly want to make a vacation worth your while, go to the market and talk to the locals! Ask how their day was and truly understand everything about their culture. While English can get you through most places on the planet, it won't help you everywhere! Don't be the type of tourist that just runs around like a headless chicken asking folks where the nearest Starbucks is.
The good thing is that when a local sees that you're speaking their language, they'll have a sudden feeling to help you with pretty much anything. And, that help can be anything from showing you how to get to your destination to inviting you for dinner. We hope you understand the difference between being a regular tourist and a tourist that’s willing to dive into a fresh, rich culture. Trust us on this one, if you choose the latter, your trip will be memorable in the true sense of the word.
A Good Side Job
A foreign language isn't just effective at getting you a full-time job as we mentioned earlier, there are also a lot of gigs you could do part-time. We're talking about freelancing. If you know multiple languages, your competition gets greatly reduced. There are thousands of jobs for translation but only a handful of people able to complete them in a professional manner. The money isn't going to be ground-breaking or anything, but if you're looking for a side gig with your foreign language, translation is the way to go.
Also, if you have some time to spare and a complete command of the language, you could delve into things more complicated than just standard translation. An interesting niche would be content writing. We can guarantee that being able to write in at least two languages will get you lots of projects!
A study published at the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology showed the effects of learning a second language on children’s memory. Learning a second language is the same thing as giving a child a jigsaw puzzle. It's a difficult riddle for them, and solving a number of such puzzles will strengthen their “brain muscles.” Learning a language can have a similar effect on adults, as it boost their mental capabilities and increases their memory. By memory, we don't mean that you'll be able to memorize your academic lessons. Learning something as complicated as a language will allow you to remember random numbers and sequences much better. Bilinguals often excel at memorizing things like shopping lists or directions, and even names and faces.
The First Language is Greatly Improved
When people are learning a second language, they will inevitably reach a point where they will start thinking all the time about how the grammar and syntax of their first language works, as they tend to compare it to that of their second language. This presents one’s mother tongue in an entirely new and fun way, and thinking this much about one’s native language will of course result into getting better at using it. Learning to properly form sentences in German, Spanish, Italian or Korean will really sharpen your writing skills in general, and will make you a better writer in English. It doesn't matter whether you managed to fully learn the language you were hoping to, your English will be much better by time you succeed or give up.
After Learning the First [Foreign Language], the Second is Much Easier
This isn't exactly a benefit, it's just a perk of learning one language. By understanding what you need to do to learn a language, you'll be able to learn another one much quicker. The most common thing most folks struggle with would be to understand where to begin. It usually takes them a couple of months to begin and several years to completely master the language. Once they completely understand where they should begin, a third or a fourth language will be pretty easy to learn. So, if you're someone that wants to brag to your friends and family or become a hopeless romantic that can say "I love you" in 12 different languages, then just remember, the journey becomes easier than it seems at first.
In the end, we'd like to encourage you to at least try to learn a language (not necessarily Spanish!). The difficulty is often exaggerated, and that's why people just get scared of it. Just go out on a limb and take the first steps. Maybe you won't find it that difficult and will be able to grasp the basics quickly. Or maybe you'll appreciate the challenge and try your very best. Just remember, there are people that know half a dozen language and can speak each fluently. The benefits are right here, while the cons are absolutely zero. So, what are you waiting for? Just pick your favorite one, sign up for some classes, download a couple apps, and start learning!