We all have probably heard of every excuse there is for why some people choose not to study a language, many of which are based on long-held beliefs and misunderstandings. But the fact is that knowing another language is a crucial skill in today's increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. Being bilingual or multilingual also increases your chances to compete and succeed in the global economy.
Don't be one of those people who regret not having learnt a new language, just because they were scared. Knowing multiple languages enables one to interact with people more immediately and meaningfully, regardless of distance and culture.
So, here’s a list of reasons why it's never too late to start learning a new language.
1. Helps to connect with people:
Our capacity for social interaction is among the most fulfilling aspects of the human experience. It is a wonderful privilege to be able to communicate with someone in their own language. In both their personal and professional life, bilinguals have the remarkable opportunity to communicate with a wider range of people.
On the other hand, no matter where you are, speaking the language makes you local, expanding both your real and figurative horizons. Interacting with diverse communities will influence you as a person. You will be moved by people's generosity. You will make friends for life. The bottom line is that you will enjoy the advantages of learning a language for many years to come just for these reasons.
2. Increases the size, health, and efficiency of your brain:
There are several advantages of learning a second language, such as it causes the language centres in the brain to physically expand. In order to make sense of the various linguistic systems, the brain has to put extra effort into recognizing, deciphering and communicating in the new language. This exercise is healthy for the brain. Thus, learning a second language helps it function more effectively.
Additionally, being multilingual also improves your problem-solving skills. Multilingual people must constantly check which language is suitable for a conversation. All that back-and-forth switching strengthens the connections in the brain, leading to enhanced attention and the ability to multitask.
3. Enhances memory skills:
Babies raised in a bilingual environment have better working memories than those raised in a monolingual environment. They are therefore more adept in reading, mental math, and many other crucial skills. Teachers frequently compare the brain to a muscle because it works better when it is exercised. Memorising words and language syntax is a necessary part of language learning and this helps to develop that mental "muscle." As a result of this activity, multilingual speakers are better at memorising lists or sequences in general. According to studies, bilinguals are also more adept at remembering names, directions, and shopping lists.
4. Helps in career growth:
Being multilingual can provide you with a distinct competitive advantage over your monolingual peers. They rank among the top eight abilities needed in all professions, regardless of whatever industry or level of expertise—and the need for bilingual professionals is growing rapidly. Employers are looking for experts who can serve and sell to a sizable community of foreign-born customers here at home, as well as serve and sell to clients in new and expanding international markets.
Language proficiency frequently results in hiring incentives and higher compensation as an added incentive. With language abilities added to the mix, you are already ahead of the game no matter what your job aspirations are.
5. Makes it easier to multitask:
For individuals who are not used to it or who don't do it effectively, multitasking can be highly stressful. People who have learned to think in multiple languages and regularly switch between them are far better multitaskers and experience less stress, claims a study from Pennsylvania State University.
6. Promotes better reasoning skills:
A University of Chicago study found that multilingual individuals have an easier time making decisions. A student of a foreign language should be aware of subtleties and regional expressions in addition to the rules and vocabulary associated with studying that language.
Beyond the grammar and vocabulary that come with learning a foreign language, subtleties and regional phrases are also routinely evaluated for appropriateness and hidden meanings by language learners. Practice, practice, practice makes perfect, and multilingual have more confidence in their decision-making abilities as a result!
7. Develops perspective:
We naturally make comparisons to what is most familiar, as we learn about a new language and culture. Learning about another culture helps us see both the good and the bad features of our own that we might not have otherwise noticed. You can opt to change things up or have a greater appreciation for what you already have.
8. Improves self-confidence:
Learning a language can help you feel more confident. Let's face it, knowing a foreign language and being able to communicate in it give you more self-assurance. You have given yourself a goal to achieve when you decide to learn and use a new language. This milestone, when achieved, can do wonders for your confidence. That is because you can approach people and initiate conversation in that language. Just knowing that provides confidence, particularly when speaking with clients and recruiters during a specific project or job search.
9. The primary language is enhanced:
Learning a new language increases your awareness of the specifics of your native tongue. Your language is likely taken more simply and terms like vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, understanding, idioms, and sentence structure become common phrases. It is when you start to learn a new language that by comparison, you gain new insights into your mother tongue.
10. Enhances achievement in other academic fields:
Studies indicate that the advantages of learning a new language include greater scores on standardised exams in math, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. It has been seen that multilingual students tend to score better on such tests than their monolingual counterparts. This is due to higher cognitive skills.
Parents and teachers should encourage their children to learn an additional language as it improves their ability to do well in problem-solving tasks across the board. In fact, many schools across the country have made it a requirement that students learn a foreign language in addition to their primary and secondary languages.