Learning a second language certainly requires passion and determination. Since this process is often challenging, many people prefer to rely on their mother tongue for communication, even when it is not effective. That said, there will always be situations where you will wish that you could speak another language fluently. Studying a new language is considered an investment in many cases, but if you are skeptical about the merits of picking up one yourself, you will change your mind by the end of this article.
Read on to discover the 4 most surprising benefits of learning a new language.
1. Enhancing Your Memory
From a medical perspective, being bilingual actually has considerable advantages. Because you will have to memorize hundreds of new words and rules and retrieve this information when needed, your memory will have to work extra hard, which is tantamount to mental exercise. In a recent study, doctors have found that bilingual people have lower chances of developing conditions that cause mental deterioration, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Also, the symptoms associated with these conditions progress much slower in bilinguals than monolinguals. Overall, bilingual patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia can maintain their cognitive abilities for at least 5 years after their initial diagnosis.
Even if you are not generally at risk of developing any of these conditions, you may be noticing that your memory is not as good as it used to be a few years ago. While this is not a cause for concern, it might still be affecting your quality of life. In this case, picking up a new language can help you stave off memory-related problems.
2. Building Business Rapport
Being bilingual does not only mean that you could communicate with people coming from different backgrounds, but it will also gain you some respect in the business world. This is particularly important if you are a business owner who works with international partners. If you are thinking about expanding to the Asian market, specifically Thailand, starting a free Thai course is your best bet. This way, you will be able to communicate effectively with salient figures in your field and broker worthwhile deals.
When it comes to finding a job, learning a new language can open many doors for you. Nowadays, it is standard to be fluent in at least two languages. Most employers may not be too keen on considering your application if you are monolingual. If you are thinking about joining the customer service sector, you should pick up either French or Spanish, depending on where you live and the customer base you will be serving.
3. Appreciating Other Cultures
You might be already enamored with other cultures, but you will not be able to fully appreciate them until you have learned to speak the same language. Moreover, being bilingual can completely change the way you consume media. Before “Parasite” won a Golden Globe and four Oscars, people used to think that foreign movies are not worth the effort of reading through blocks of subtitles. While there is nothing wrong with dubbed films, there is a certain appeal about understanding the language the actors are speaking, even if you still need to add subtitles to help you at first. So, if you are a fan of Korean or Spanish drama, it might be time for you to learn the language and forgo dubbing altogether. You can also use being bilingual to your advantage or consider it a cool party trick if you want to impress your friends with your superior knowledge about other cultures!
4. Learning to Read Body Language
Have you ever wished that you could understand people’s gesticulations and body language without having to rely on their word choice or tone? Well, this is what being bilingual is all about! In some languages, words have a wide array of different connotations. For example, “no” actually means “yes” in Polish. In many cases, if you do not know how to read the speaker’s body language, the whole conversation might go awry! Similarly, by picking up a new language, you will be able to differentiate between the literal and figurative use of certain phrases. All in all, you will become a better communicator when you put time and effort into learning a second language.
Not only is picking up a new language a power move that will unlock many professional and personal opportunities for you, but it can also protect your brain from detrimental conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Once you make up your mind about which language you want to learn, you should give yourself ample time to master it. This means that you should let go of all unrealistic expectations and focus on honing your linguistic skills.