There are few things in life as rewarding and challenging as learning another language than that of your birth. It’s not easy by any means and is an achievement that should be applauded and celebrated. But, did you know that it can also literally make you a better person?
In this article, I’ll demonstrate five ways that learning a new language is a more flexible form of self-improvement than you’d think. So buckle up and get ready to be amazed at what your new language can do for you.
1.It’s Good for Your Brain
Rather than asking how knowing more than one language improves your cognitive abilities, it may be easier to ask how it doesn’t, since the list is so long. The Dana Foundation, who are a respected organization promoting brain science, have put all the research together here, but some of the interesting ones are:
- Better performance on conflict management tasks
- Protection against cognitive declines from old age
- Better attention and focus
- Better task-switching
- More adaptability in young children
Who knew you Spanish or French teacher was trying to give you superpowers?
2.It Makes You More Employable
In many parts of the world work is getting harder and harder to find, so gaining skills that make you more employable is an obvious and desirable action to take. While machine translations are getting better every day, human beings are still by far the best translators. Companies that want to do business outside their borders rely on human language practitioners to help bridge cultural and language barriers. This is why so many organisations are always looking to hire multilingual employees.
3.It Makes You More Creative
It really does! Researchers who compared the creative abilities of monolingual and bilingual individuals have found that speaking more than one language has a positive effect on creativity in additional to making you a smarty pants as we learned in #1.
4.It Expands Your Horizons
While it’s true that the world is “shrinking” thanks to the internet and easy global travel, if you don’t speak the language of the cultures you come in contact with you’re still excluded from it in many important ways.
By learning a news language you get access to an entire culture worth of stories, films, writing and philosophy. There is much that no translation can never convey, especially when it comes to poetry or humour. So learning a new language literally makes your human experience a bigger one.
5.It Makes Your More Tolerant and Empathetic
Having a shrinking world also means that many different peoples have to share cultural spaces. When you learn the language of another culture you stop being a complete outsider. Language is more than just a way to communicate. It frames how we see the world and speaking the language of another culture let’s you see it through their eyes. At least up to a point.
So by learning a new language you also learn to have empathy for the people of that culture and become more tolerant of cultural differences. Something we all could use a bit more of.
A Rose by any Other Name…
Whatever language you choose to tackle next, you’re sure to find that it’s a transformative experience. If you decide to travel to a place where you can put that language skill to use, you’ll be in for the adventure of a lifetime as a new world becomes available to you.
If you do travel however, remember to be safe and enjoy every moment!
Image is Public Domain via Pixabay