Balanced Mind,  Healthy Body,  Self Care

15 Benefits of Learning a Second Language

There are many benefits to learning a second language. It can boost your self-esteem, open your mind, increase your creativity and enjoyment of your life, as well as improve your brain and memory functions. It can also increase your understanding of the language you already speak and improve your attention span. But that is not all; acquiring a new language also helps to stave off cognitive decline and mental aging while offering a sense of the past both culturally and linguistically. Foreign languages expand one’s worldview and limit the barriers between people that may cause distrust and fear. In a nutshell, learning a second language is good for your life and your health. 

1. It Stimulates your Gray Matter

Learning a new language stimulates your brain by helping your gray matter grow. It does so when you are learning a whole new set of rules of grammar and lexis. Lexis is the level of language consisting of vocabulary. While your brain is trying to keep up with the new language’s complexities and take in the new patterns, new developments are happening in the brain. Just like muscles, the brain gets stronger and bigger the more you put it to use. In fact, scientists have established that we use the left side of the brain when speaking our native language. In contrast, second language usage isn’t limited to a specific hemisphere. It uses both, increasing the size of the white and grey matter of the brain. Other research has shown that multilingual adults experienced the first signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia at a later age compared to monolinguals. They also researched other variables like health, economic status, educational level, and gender, but none of them contributed as much as the number of languages that person spoke.

2. The study of foreign languages boosts confidence.

Aside from being fun, learning a new language presents an opportunity to push yourself. It makes you realize you’re capable of achieving more than you thought. Starting may be difficult, but as you set and reach goals, your confidence improves.

3. It Improves Your Attention Span

Studies have shown that the human attention span has been narrowing more and more every day and that deciding to learn a new language may be the antidote to this situation. Researchers suggest that learning a new language helps the brain maintain focus and block distractions because you must be able to regularly switch between languages. When speaking, bilinguals or multilinguals are constantly switching between two or more languages in their head, and this juggling improves the brain’s ability to concentrate on one thing while ignoring other irrelevant information. 

4. More Career Options to Choose From

We are living in a multicultural world; many companies are opening offices overseas to extend their market. So, the need for bilingual candidates is greater than ever. By acquiring a foreign language, you will double the number of available jobs for you and climb the career ladder much faster. If you want to stand out, then having a foreign language listed in your CV might be what a potential employer is looking for. Also, people who are proficient in more than one language are in high demand in the job market in all sectors and industries, as employers consider them to be better communicators and problem solvers. Skills that one masters by acquiring a second language.

5. It Boosts Your Creativity

Knowing a foreign language isn’t beneficial only to the brain; it also influences your level of creativity. As a person starts to learn a language, they get familiar with the culture of the place where that language is spoken. The more you learn about new cultures, the more you’ll look at the world around you from different perspectives. The change of views will make you more original, elaborate, and flexible—all qualities of being a creative person. Plus, experts say that being creative improves your well-being, something we all desire as human beings. 

6. It Improves Your First Language

Most people learn their mother tongue intuitively, without any formal education. Being raised in a society where a particular language is spoken, children start to pick up the language they hear. But if you learn a second language, you’ll get introduced to grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and new sentence structure. As you learn more about the second language, you become more conscious of what you know in the first language. While before, you couldn’t quite explain the abstract rules and language structure, learning a new language helps you put names to what you learned instinctively in the first language. Becoming aware of the differences in structure, vocabulary, grammar, idioms, and sentence structure between the two languages helps to improve comprehension and conversation and can make you better at your first language.

7. You Build Multitasking Skills

A study done by the National Institutes of Health concluded that bilinguals switch tasks faster than monolinguals. They found that bilingual children in their research responded quite well to their multiple computer tasks in comparison to their monolingual fellows. Other research also found that bilinguals demonstrate more efficient brain functioning than non-bilinguals, and a bilingual person’s brain maintains better task-switching even as they get older. So, switching from one language to the other daily works the brain and gets it used to this demanding job of switching from one task to another. This positive effect can be translated to other tasks as you age.

8. It Slows Down Cognitive Decline

Learning a language may reduce your chances of getting early-onset cognitive impairments. The latest study on the effect of bilingualism in cognitive aging found that people who spoke more than one language, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, and occupation, experienced the onset of cognitive decline four years and a half later than the ones who spoke only one. So, if you want to delay or keep away Alzheimer’s and Dementia, this is a great tool to use.

9. It Improves Your Memory

The brain can be compared to a muscle. That is, the more physical exercises you do, the more the muscle will strengthen and get larger. This aspect applies to the brain, too. The more you challenge it, the more the brain expands and the better it functions. And learning a second language as an exercise for the brain. Having first to understand and then later recall multiple grammar rules and vocabulary strengthens the memory muscle. That’s why people who know more than one language are more likely to retain information, and they are better at remembering lists, names, cell phone numbers, and directions than monolinguals.

10. Foreign language study offers a sense of the past both culturally and linguistically.

Foreign languages open the door to art, music, dance, fashion, cuisine, film, philosophy, and science.

11. Foreign languages expand one’s worldview and limit the barriers between people

Barriers cause distrust and fear. Foreign language study creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different. Studying a new culture helps you meet new and interesting people.

Second Language

12. The study of foreign languages teaches and encourages respect for other people.

Learning a new language fosters an understanding of the interrelation between language and human nature. It teaches and encourages respect for other people, and it fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature. When students come into contact with people and cultures that are very different from their own, they learn to be more tolerant and understanding.  

13. A second language improves your skills and grades in math and English and on the SAT and GRE

Analytical skills improve when students study a foreign language. Foreign languages provide a competitive edge in career choices: one can communicate in a second language. If you study a foreign language, your English will improve. This makes you more aware of language and how it can be structured and manipulated. This makes you better at communicating and writing, which is a definite advantage when taking the SAT and ACT exams.

14. It Boosts Your Self-Esteem

No one wants to be put in the spotlight, especially when talking in a foreign language, when the chances of making mistakes are quite high. Yet, this is what characterizes language learning. It breaks you out of your shell again and again that, eventually, you’ll feel comfortable in every situation regardless of whether you’re making mistakes or not. Nothing beats the confidence you feel when talking to a native speaker in their language. That’s when your self-esteem will skyrocket. Becoming proficient in a language is like mastering any other skill. Once you’re there, you’ll feel confident and nice about yourself.

15. Increased problem-solving skills and understanding of abstract concepts

The study of foreign languages enhances listening skills and memory, increases analytical abilities, and builds aptitude in problem-solving and working with abstract concepts. It has been shown to enhance the study of other subjects. Abilities in math and English increase, and creativity grows.

The many benefits of learning another language are innumerable. Those that we mentioned in our list are just a part of them. Yet, no matter how many lists are out there, no one can convince you of the benefits as much as your own language-learning experience will. With that in mind, choose a language that you find exciting and appealing and open the door to the many benefits that come with language proficiency. I have chosen to Learn Italian. What will you choose?

For more Balanced Mind, Self-Care, and Healthy Body articles, please follow our blog.