There is something so appealing about being bilingual or multilingual. It’s always an impressive bragging point to be able to say, “did you know she speaks TWO languages fluently?” Heck, I’d settle for speaking English fluently, but that’s just me. There are about a bazillion reasons to learn a foreign language. Maybe even a bazillion and one. But here are the top five reasons why learning a new language is a spectacular idea.
Boost Career Opportunities
If you do a Google search for top reasons to learn a foreign language, you will come up with list after list ranging from 5 reasons (ahem, like this post) to 50 reasons. Almost every list has the career boost as one of the top reasons for being multi-lingual. We are quickly becoming a global society, and having the ability to communicate with more people is always a benefit. Employers take this skill very seriously. Furthermore, the ability to learn and use a second (or third or even fourth) language is indicative of hard work and commitment. Who wouldn’t want an employee with those attributes?
Fight Off Brain Disease and Promote Brain Health
Studies have shown that people who challenge their brains more often are less likely to suffer from certain types of age-related illnesses. In fact, a recent study among Alzheimer’s patients showed that those patients who were bilingual maintained brain function and cognitive abilities longer than people who only speak one language. So while it may not completely eliminate degenerative brain disease, it can definitely slow its progress.
Gain Perspective and Empathy
Learning a foreign tongue has the added benefit of allowing you to see your own culture from another perspective. Our world is growing each and every day. Understanding our own culture from another point of view helps break down barriers. Additionally, learning a new language also encourages learning about other cultures as well. Understanding and empathy are pivotal skills in establishing and maintaining meaningful communication, bridges gaps, and breaks down barriers from one society to another.
Boost Kids’ Own Language Abilities with Whistlefritz
Years ago, experts thought that encouraging children to learn a foreign tongue would only confuse them. Now we know better! It turns out that learning a second language during childhood actually improves first language skills and comprehension. Children who are bi-lingual generally start reading earlier and are better at identifying grammatically incorrect sentences. What’s more, learning a foreign language as a child is easier than learning as an adult. Whistlefritz offers immersion programs for kids (and adults if you are so inclined!) that mirrors the way they first learn words as babies.
Through immersion, translations aren’t offered. Instead, the brain learns the key words through the use of repetition and pictures. As more language is learned and developed, more language pieces will fit into the puzzle and there is a greater understanding of language. It’s really quite impressive, if you think about it. Spanish and French are available with lesson plans that are easy to follow along with.
Become a Better Learner
Practicing linguistic skills uses several key areas of the brain. This strengthens learning ability, and the more you learn the easier it gets! This sort of piggybacks on the previous point of boosting existing language abilities. Learning a second language often shines a spotlight on the way words and language are used across the board. Word roots are identified and tied into existing language understanding and promotes critical thinking and comprehension. Unfamiliar words can be loosely (or even exactly) defined or comprehended based on the knowledge of the word root or base. It’s actually pretty darn impressive.
English is said to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. It is a bastardized version of several different romance languages with roots and lingo and idioms derived from so many different places. We are truly a “melting pot” of society and our spoken tongue is proof of how much we appropriate from other cultures across the world. Still, becoming multi-lingual is always beneficial in more ways than simply being able to ask directions in a foreign country. It truly promotes and encourages empathy and brain development in areas far beyond speaking.