People chose to learn foreign languages for many different reasons and benefits. The purpose of this paper is to take an in depth look at the various benefits of learning a foreign language.
In many instances, people take up learning a new language because they move to a country to live, work or study in, because it has a different language to their own. Others do it because of a new job opportunity. For instance, teachers who want to work in schools which are multilingual need to be able to connect with students from different cultures, and the best way to do this is by learning one or two of the languages which the children speak. In addition to this, if immigrants learn to speak the language of their new country, then they will find it much easier to adjust (Examined Existence, n.d.).
There are numerous benefits associated with learning a foreign language, for example, it helps to bridge social barriers and: “A person gets to enjoy social and economic benefits, as well as the mental benefits of learning a foreign language” (Examined Existence, n.d.). It also increases brain power because: “a foreign language is a whole new system with distinct rules, etymology, and meaning, which are just a few of the complexities of a language” (Examined Existence, n.d.).
This means that the brain has to extend itself and acknowledge this new language structure. Quite miraculously, the brain figures out what it all means, and then it fully utilises this new armory to convey ideas. Furthermore, it sharpens peoples’ ability to solve problems, negotiate, and read (Examined Existence, n.d.).
Another excellent benefit is developing the capacity to multi-task. Anyone who is not adept at multi-tasking can find it a stressful experience. Yet those who have multilingual abilities find that sliding from one language to another, and mixing the two opposing language mechanics, is second nature. As this scenario is very demanding and distracting for the brain, individuals who have mastered this skill tend to be very proficient at multi-tasking. Moreover, they are able to juggle different things at the same time while only making very few errors (Examined Existence, n.d.).
Research on the brain has shown that the brains of bilingual people suffering from Alzheimer’s: “function better and for longer after developing the disease” (Moskowitz, 2011). In one particular study reported by Live Science, it was noted that as soon as Alzheimer’s starts to compromise a particular part of the brain, those with bilingual ability can keep functioning even after the illness has a negative effect on cognitive function. It is thought that this may be down to the fact that individuals who are bilingual, utilise the brain’s executive control system more often. This system forms the basis of peoples’ means to cogitate in intricate ways (Moskowitz, 2011).
Expanding cultural understanding and knowledge is another by-product of acquiring a foreign language. This exciting route into another culture’s music, theatre, literature, cinema, politics and history, from within its language can be very interesting. Even artworks and sculpture can reveal innovative dimensions when they are read about in their native language. It can also generate a greater interest and curiosity in that particular culture (Metivier, 2016).
Being bi-lingual and being fluent in another language opens up the job market, and even in cases where an additional language is not required, the manager or company director who is recruiting, will recognise the applicant’s enhanced thinking abilities and discipline as an asset. And in these days when so much business is linked to the EU and other countries, staff with bilingual abilities may be called upon to work on new projects, thus opening up exciting new opportunities for them (Metivier, 2016). In addition to this, when individuals speak more than one language, they have the ability to interact and communicate within multiplex communities. Companies regard this skill as a important attribute, because this means that their employees with this talent can link up with a wider spectrum of people. Furthermore, the 21st Century is brimming with start-up companies which are trying to corner new markets. It also elevates an employee’s professional and personal worth because they will have the means to communicate with clients who are unable to speak the native language of the company. Furthermore, a bilingual employee will be able to discuss various matters with foreign manufacturers, and negotiate in a more clearer way, which could deliver various benefits such as a reduced rate. (Wagers, n.d.).
- Examined Existence (n.d.). “12 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language.” Retrieved from http://examinedexistence.com
- Metivier, Anthony (2016). “15 Reasons Why Learning A Foreign Language Is Good For Your Brain. “ Magnet Memory Method. Retrieved from http://www.magneticmemorymethod.com
- Moskowitz, Clara (2011). Live Science. “Learning a Second Language Protects Against Alzheimer’s.” Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com
- Wagers, Rachel (n.d.). “9 Big Advantages of Learning a Foreign Language.” Retrieved from http://www.fluentu.com