Besides being a great tool for traveling and communicating with others, there are many other benefits of learning a new language.
I used to believe that because I spoke English I didn’t really need to learn another language, but to my surprise, although it’s a global language, turns out that in some places they don’t really speak it and in others they just don’t like doing it (talking about you, France!). Do you remember that episode in Friends where Joey says he’s fluent in French on his resumé, but he actually doesn't speak the language? That was me, although I never lied on my resumé. Ever since I went to France for my fifteenth birthday, I promised myself I would learn the language after I had a not very pleasant experience with some locals when I approached them in English. I’ve studied the first level like five times in my life because, when I’m about to pass to the next level, something happens that I have to quit, and then when I make the decision of coming back, I feel like I have to start over.
Besides traveling - I mean, I can live with these people being rude because I don’t speak their language properly - knowing a foreign language can come in handy in so many different situations and can bring a lot of benefits in your everyday life, like leveling up your professional game, for instance. I know it’s something that might take a lot of time, effort, and even money, but I can’t think of anything more worth it. So, if you’ve thought about it or have some doubts, here are some reasons that will convince you to learn that language you’ve always wanted to learn.
You can connect with more people
There’s nothing better than being able to fully communicate with others. My dad’s an expert at making friends with foreign people, but since he only speaks Spanish and a little bit of English, he always feels bad for not being able to have deeper conversations and share more. Like him, you can find other ways to communicate, but it’s not the same as being able to really share your experiences and who you are.
You can appreciate works of art in their original language
This one is crucial, especially if you’re as geeky as me. So, not that I belittle the work of translators, but sometimes things get lost in the process of taking a work into another language. Believe me, as a former translator, I know what I’m talking about. Whether it's a book, poetry, music, a movie, or a series, there’s no doubt that most of the time, they’re much better in the original language.
You expand your cultural knowledge
Not only will you be able to communicate with people from other places (which by itself can expand your cultural perspectives in unimaginable ways), but actually, through the process of learning, you gain so much cultural information and knowledge attached to the language. Especially, if it’s spoken across different countries and traditions.
You develop multitasking skills
Now, we’ve talked about the benefits in the social, cultural, and intellectual areas, but there are also a lot of benefits in a more physical and scientific level. There are plenty of studies on the impact languages can have on the cognitive area and how they reflect on the overall functioning of the brain. One of these is the fact that people who learn a new language develop a multitasking ability, according to Pennsylvania State University. The sooner you start learning a new language, the faster these structures switch.
It improves your memory
Along with that, throughout the process of learning a language, your brain keeps working and making neuronal connections that help improve memory. It’s been proven that multilingual people have more developed brains and can even memorize longer sequences and items. There’s also a link between the probabilities of developing Alzheimer's or dementia and the ability to speak other languages, which naturally shows that bilingual or multilingual people have fewer chances of developing these conditions.
You make better choices
And the one I see more like a superpower is the improvement in decision-making skills, which honestly I need so badly. According to a study made by the University of Chicago, multilingual people are better at making rational decisions. Not only that, they show to be more confident in their own choices in life since they tend to analyze them deeply and logically before making them. Honestly, I’m already signing up only for this point.
Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Náhuatl, you name it: what matters is expanding your mind and knowledge through a highly practical and fulfilling skill. There are literally tons of doors that a foreign language can open for you, and it’s not that hard to make it happen, you just need to start doing it.
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Photos by @strupat