As the world becomes more connected, more people are speaking more than one language. Over 20 percent of people in the United States can speak more than one language, and that percentage just keeps growing. Some parents teach their children several languages at birth, but many other people learn later in life – either through school or on their own.
If you’ve been thinking about learning another language, but haven’t taken the plunge just yet, you should read the following list. It outlines the many benefits that being able to speak another language brings. Knowing the benefits of learning a foreign language can help you stay motivated as you learn.
Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language
No matter what language you want to learn, they all carry a similar set of benefits – though in different areas of the world. You should pick the language that attracts you the most. A personal or familial connection is a good way to get started, or if you have a small vocabulary already built up through school.
Perhaps the most important reason to consider learning another language is because of the career options that bilingualism opens up for you. For instance, in Canada, you have to be able to communicate in both French and English to work in politics or for many different public sector jobs. Eight percent of all jobs across the country need to be bilingual – and that’s not including the jobs that are French-only.
The same goes for many areas in the US. While there are not two official languages, being able to speak Spanish can open up a ton of opportunities. In places like Louisiana, knowing French can also help you network and give you a leg up over the competition for a job posting.
Another large benefit of knowing another language is that being able to communicate with other people in their native tongue can help expand your social circle. Being able to speak the same language is always a good icebreaker, especially if you are in a predominantly English-speaking area.
This also allows you to make friends easier while you travel. Staying in a foreign city is much more enjoyable if you can talk to everyone, not just the people who know English. It also makes you look like less of tourist, which can help you experience the city the way it was meant to be.
Spanish has spread to many different locations besides Spain. You can find more info here about Spanish-speaking travel destinations if you are looking to practice your Spanish.
Learning Extra Languages
Beyond the social and professional benefits that being able to speak a different language brings, you should also consider learning another language because it makes other languages even easier.
For instance, the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, and Italian) all share similar forms. This is because they are rooted in Latin, which was the language of Rome (hence Romance language). English has borrowed heavily from German while learning Russian makes it easier to learn Slavic languages like Polish and Czech.
Being able to speak one makes it easier to speak another. This means that once you are bilingual, it’s a lot easier to become tri or even multilingual. If a language is closely related to another, you may be able to carry a conversation with a native speaker, even if neither of you is fluent in the other’s language.
Of course, being able to speak more than two languages just amplifies the social and professional benefits discussed above.
Improve Your Native Language
Learning how to speak another language can make you a better English speaker. This is because you become very aware of the grammar rules of another language, and will start to examine how you put together sentences in English.
You may also learn new words in English as you expand your vocabulary in your chosen other language. This will help you in your speaking and in your writing.
Improve Cognitive Function
Spending time learning a new language can help your brain do certain things. For instance, knowing a new language makes it easier to multitask and switch back and forth between languages. It can also help with your concentration and listening skills, as you will be more attentive to language in general.
There have also been preliminary studies into the effect of being bilingual on dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society of the United Kingdom says that people who have been bilingual their entire life may be more protected against Alzheimer’s. Of course, these studies have not proven anything for sure yet.
Books, Movies, and More!
Though often thought of as a tool that you can use to use language, there is value in being able to engage with another culture’s art. Watching a French movie with subtitles or dubbed over is not the same as listening to the same language. Quite a lot of meaning can be lost in the translation.
By learning another language, you can greatly expand the number of books, songs, and movies that you have available to you. This can make it harder to make a decision on Netflix!
Stick with It
The most important thing to remember when starting to learn a new language is to stick with it. Languages are not learned overnight, and they are constantly changing. Keeping the benefits of learning a foreign language in your mind helps you stay on top of your studies.
Persistence is the only way to truly become fluent. For more information about learning another language and improving yourself, check out the Life Tips section of our blog.