The benefits of learning languages
By David Elliot
There are plenty of benefits to learning another language and becoming bilingual or even multilingual, quite apart from the more obvious ones such as making you more employable in the increasingly integrated world of the global market place. Raise your kudos and with a relatively small amount of effort see your whole world open up and your life transform itself beyond what you thought possible. In the second language business a little effort really does go a long way and pay great dividends, so here are a few of the potential rewards, just to whet your appetite.
Check out this fun info-graphic from Kaplan international language schools.
A better travel experience
To get the most out of travelling it’s always a great idea to try and master a few basic phrases at least, so you’re not just another tourist taking a few cheesy photos and shunned by the natives but are able to get under the skin of a strange culture. If you’re seriously attracted to a particular region, consider taking a full course to learn a language like French, German or Spanish, which are all widely used, or even something like Japanese of Chinese. It’ll be much easier to get about, and the locals are infinitely more open and receptive when they see that you’ve made some effort to actually learn their language.
The idea that most of the world speaks English so there’s no point in learning another language is simply incorrect. Ideas and thoughts now originating in other languages are not immediately translated into English, and especially in the global market place being able to communicate and negotiate with a business representative who can’t speak English very well can make you a valuable asset. There’s nothing like being bilingual in a business environment for gaining immediate credibility and respect, but even in a field such as archaeology, a good working knowledge of French or German can really boost your career.
Exercise your brain!
Exercise your brain’s cognitive muscles by becoming fluent in a second language, rather than frittering away time on crossword puzzles. A bilingual person’s brain is more active and creative, because he or she is automatically and constantly translating between languages to find different words and phrases for the same idea. This has knock-on benefits for general reasoning and facilitates convergent and divergent thinking as well as exercising meta-linguistic abilities. Learning another language also has concrete advantages when it comes to intellectual growth and enriching mental development. This is true for children and adults alike, with bilinguals of whatever age consistently scoring higher on IQ tests.
The language of love
Being able to express thoughts elegantly in another language is also often just plain sexy. The implication of being able to do this is that you’re not only smart and sensitive but also have a good education and fine taste, which can give you a clear lead over the competition in some important areas of life. A well-turned phrase in an unfamiliar language can work wonders at getting someone’s attention, where in-depth knowledge of your football team’s standing in the league tables may not have quite the same effect.