The desire to learn a new language cuts across all ages and pursuits. Taking up French, Korean, or Japanese lessons can be for school, work, or simply as a matter of interest.
What’s clearly interesting is that being fluent in a language other than your native tongue is rewarding personally and professionally. Here is why being bilingual is advantageous.
1. Bilingualism Is Highly Valued in the Job Market
Being proficient in another language boosts your employability. This proficiency can land you a job related to your field of study or practice and generate additional income for translation work, etc.
English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, especially in major financial hubs, so being able to write and speak the language can lead to economic opportunities. Thus, some study English as their second language to get into top schools in their country or abroad or to advance their professional development.
Besides English, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, French, and Italian are global languages that can be useful for your career. You can get started by enrolling in courses, watching movies/series, and interacting with native speakers. Taking up an international internship also helps as you’ll be able to practice speaking the foreign language while working/studying.
Building a global career is totally possible, if not, a reality, in this day and age. But to thrive globally and work with talent from all over the world, one has to understand and be able to understand others through a common language.
2. Speaking a Foreign Language Can Be Highly Beneficial When You Travel
Communication is indeed key when visiting a place that is new and unfamiliar to you, even if you are with someone you know. From asking directions to engaging in substantial conversations, it’s a plus to be able to communicate with locals effectively and freely.
When you speak the local language, you also feel less of an outsider and more of a traveller who knows their way around. This adds to the experience of experiencing something new.
Travels also present the best time and place to apply what you’ve learned so far and test your fluency in terms of grammar, tone, or pronunciation. How do you think you would fare when talking with native speakers?
That’s practical learning involving real people and situations. This exposure could boost your confidence and at the same time help you improve as a language learner.
3. Being Bilingual Leads to Interesting Cultural and Social Opportunities
Whether you are in your home country or abroad, being bilingual offers opportunities to interact with more people with diverse backgrounds and personalities.
You can pick up perspectives, perceptions, and practices first-hand through social interactions. In the course of conversations, you will have also picked up the nuances and subtleties of the language.
Indeed, how you think and frame ideas are affected by the language you are using, and some report having a change of personality or behaviours whenever they switch between languages.
When you are into a new language, you also immerse yourself with the culture rooted to it. This culture may be your own or someone else’s yet whose values have an influence on your life.
4. Bilingual People Tend to Be More Open-minded
This research article reveals that bilinguals demonstrate high social flexibility, which involves adapting to social environments with ease and reading social cues in the environment with accuracy.
Moreover, there is a link between open-mindedness and bilingualism/multilingualism as shown in this investigation, which is one of the most-cited research regarding the matter.
Travelling or staying abroad to work or intern, which can be a precursor for picking up a new language, opens the mind to different experiences, ideas, and attitudes. Those differences can make you more tolerant and aware that there’s more than one way of seeing things.
This openness or receptiveness to novel perspectives would be helpful in solving problems, especially those requiring creative solutions. Of course, being able to speak the language fosters understanding and helps reach a resolution should a conflict of ideas arise.
5. Speaking Another Language Boosts Long-Term Neurological Health
Learning a foreign language is stimulating for the brain like exercise that keeps it active and young in a sense.
Take a look at some potential benefits of being bilingual for your brain and overall health so far:
- It may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease based on this study that looked into the cognitive reserve of bilinguals.
- It helps improve executive functions, such as attention, memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition.
- It helps develop empathy, which is linked to higher levels of executive functions per this pilot study.
More research may be needed to support the bilingual effect, but cognitive benefits arising from acquiring a new language skill as shown above point to a positive direction.
After all, you are never too old or too young to learn new syntax, vocabulary, verb conjugation, and the like.
Learning is always fun and fulfilling. It widens your perspectives and understanding of people and things.
Take this post as an extra push to pick up that foreign language; in this lifetime, there’s no limit to what you can learn.