In the past, all that mattered was to learn your own mother language so that you are able to understand your peers. Some people with an affinity to foreign languages would learn multiple tongues – but this was not always the case. Nowadays, with globalization creeping in more and more, everyone is starting to get an interest in foreign languages.
At this point in our society, we have yet to hear a good reason why you should not learn a new language – other than your mother tongue. All we can think about are the benefits and why this would actually prove beneficial in the long run – and here are only some of them.
- They Open a World of Opportunities
Think about it: when you know only one language, you can apply for only the careers that involve that particular language. However, when you learn a second language, you can opt for other job opportunities as well – simply because you understand its requirements. Even as a businessperson, with more and more companies doing business overseas as well, knowing a second language could actually land you a new partnership.
Even if you aren’t employed, learning new languages can put you a lot higher compared to other applicants. Let’s say that a multinational company receives two CVs, Bob’s and Rob’s. Bob only has the English language mentioned in his CV, whereas Rob has English, Russian, and German. It’s obvious that the recruiter will take a better fancy to Rob than to Bob.
- It Gives You a Brain Boost
A second language a day keeps the doctor away – or at least that’s how the saying should go. It has been demonstrated that if you study a second language, you will actually reap cognitive benefits from it – regardless of how old you are.
Studying a second language will give you a much longer attention span, improve your memory, and reduce the risk of going through cognitive decline caused by old age. That being said, these are only two of the positive cognitive benefits brought by studying multiple languages.
- It Helps You Create Cross-Cultural Friendships
When you only know one language, it’s very likely that your friends will also be speakers of the very same language. They’ll have the same culture as you – and it’s likely that you won’t be able to learn anything about your culture from them. Or at least, nothing that you have not learned before.
However, haven’t you felt that pang of regret when you met, say, a Japanese person, and could not learn anything firsthand about their culture simply because you could not understand what they were saying?
Bet you wished you would have taken that Japanese class, employed yourself in Japanese translation services so that you could practice, and learn more about that culture. Maybe you could have actually spoken to that Japanese person if you actually did that – and now you would have had a new friend.
- It Helps You Gain Perspective on Your Own Culture
Trying to understand your own culture without help from the outside is like trying to learn about what a train is like while you’ve only been inside of it. You can’t see the wheels, the rails, the color of the train, or anything that is on the outside.
In order to get perspective, you will have to actually get off the train and take a closer look at it from the outside. You’ll actually see how the train goes, how the wheels spin – how pretty much everything function.
The same thing goes with a cultural perspective. When you’ve learned to do something your whole life within your culture, it will be very interesting to find out other people’s thoughts regarding that aspect. It will give you insight into your culture that you never even thought about.
- It Gives You a More Positive Attitude Towards the Different
When you only speak one language, you will be wary of all the other cultures simply because you will not understand exactly what is going on. You will be wary of the unknown, so you will not look for opportunities to actually connect with what you call the “different.”
If, however, you have learned another language, then it will be much easier for you to connect with other cultures – and to also be less prejudiced against them. This will be because you will already know more about them by studying their language.
Studying languages can open doors. It can give you more job opportunities, it can help you make friends – it can even help you understand your own culture better. Granted, it may take a few years of dedication – but in the end, the final result should be worth it.