Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you encountered a language barrier you wished you could cross? Do you have a little bit of free time and a desire to learn a new skill with a wide range of applications? Want to make your next abroad experience more authentic and rewarding?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then it’s time to learn how to speak a second language. No matter who you are, there are numerous advantages to becoming bilingual, ranging from improved job prospects to a broader perspective on the world around you. Read on to find out just how useful it is to start your training in a foreign language.
1. Improves your memory
Learning a second language sharpens the mind in a few different ways. Studies show that multi-linguists have an easier time multitasking and show signs of improved information recall compared to their monolingual peers.
Becoming bilingual means you’ll have an easier time remembering things like the names of new acquaintances, items on your grocery list and all of the other information we struggle to retain in our daily lives. It’s no surprise, then, that a 2013 study found that speaking multiple languages was shown to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
2. Allows you to gain the full abroad experience
Becoming bilingual offers a ready-made excuse to travel to a foreign country. No matter what corner of the globe you’re exploring, going somewhere you already know the native language takes much of the stress out of traveling abroad.
You’ll have an easier time navigating public transportation, ordering dinner and meeting new people along the way. Understanding a country’s language means you can feel more comfortable as you travel and truly make the most of the experience.
3. Strengthens your linguistic skills in your native tongue
The process of learning a new language involves breaking down your native language into its component parts. This gives you a great opportunity to reconsider your assumptions about what words mean and how sentences are constructed.
Additionally, the part of your brain that processes a given language remains active even when you’re hearing or speaking a different one, meaning you can take advantage of your newfound linguistic skills on the fly.
4. Makes you a stronger job candidate
Today’s globally connected economy means that businesses have a need for anyone who can communicate in more than one language. Any smart multinational company would be thrilled to add a qualified bilingual speaker to their team.
Learning a second language can both open new doors and give you a leg up on other candidates. Careers where fluency in a foreign language is most useful include international relations, consulting, customer service, marketing, healthcare and hospitality, among others.
5. Helps connect you with foreign family members
Language is one of the strongest ties that people have to the place where they grew up. If you’re looking for a way to explore your family’s heritage, learning how to communicate in their native language is one of the best ways to do it. Becoming bilingual will make it easier to connect with relatives around the world and understand their culture from a more authentic perspective.
6. Widens your global perspective
One of the best ways to enrich your understanding of our world is to seek out new perspectives from people you wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to interact with. Communicating with foreign speakers in their native language allows them to show their true personality. As opposed to the kind of fleeting interactions that take place when there’s a language barrier, being bilingual can lead to the kind of lasting friendships that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
If you’re ready to learn a second language, there are a number of different apps, online resources and software to help you get started. Once you feel comfortable enough to travel somewhere with your new language skills, read our guide to the benefits of solo traveling.