If you’ve ever considered learning a new language, but maybe you felt you didn’t have the time, learning more about the benefits of a second language could help you find the motivation.
There’s no better time than now to start learning another language because you have so many resources available to you. For example, with sites like Preply, which connects you with a private language tutor, you get access to the skills that otherwise you might only find through immersion.
The following are some of the biggest benefits of learning a new language to consider.
There are significant brain health benefits that come with learning a new language. Learning a language helps your memory and concentration and may even be associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
It’s incredibly challenging for your brain to understand and learn a language, and that complexity is like a workout for your mind.
You can use the process of learning a language to help protect your brain against the effects of aging.
The following are specific ways learning a new language can help your brain:
- When you learn a new language, it activates your executive functions, which are the most complex. Executive functions are what separate humans from other animals.
- When you learn a new language, it can increase your gray matter volume. Your gray matter can become denser, meaning you have more brain cells, and that’s an indicator of a healthy brain.
- When you’re bilingual, it can also affect your brain’s white matter, which is what allows messages to travel rapidly around your brain.
- The language centers in your brain are flexible, and when you learn a second language, it can trigger development in new parts of your mind. It can also help your brain’s ability to focus naturally.
- There was a Swedish study that looked at MRI images and found that you could see the visible changes in the brain when you learned a foreign language.
- When you learn a new language, you have to get familiar with the rules and vocabulary that are part of it, and also, you have to be able to then recall and apply what you learn. That helps give your memory a boost.
- Learning a new language can help you learn how to more effectively multi-task, especially since you’re learning to think across different languages.
Beyond the specific brain benefits, when you learn a new language, it provides you with more opportunities to connect with other people. Human connection is rewarding on many different levels. You can speak to someone in their native language, and you can use what you know personally and professionally.
If you travel to an area where a foreign language is spoken, you can have a much more immersive experience when you know how to speak to local people. You can order food in restaurants, buy items in a market, and just learn what the culture is truly about outside of the tourist experience.
Language is a way to form a direct connection to another culture. You can gain a much deeper and more profound understanding of religion, art, and traditions when you know the language.
It’s Easier to Learn Another
Once you learn and master one foreign language, research shows that it’s easy to learn another. You could ultimately end up being someone who is fluent in several languages.
The techniques you learn as you’re acquiring the new language skills can then be applied in the future.
Your brain can also learn how to process linguistic structures, and again, that can be applied to learning any language.
There’s a term called metalinguistic awareness. This means that your brain begins to learn techniques of acquiring a new language and then breaks them down. Your brain develops a series of steps in the process, and then you have muscle memory that will help you become more aware of how languages are structured, and you’ll also have a greater awareness of things like grammar and sentence structure.
You May Feel More Creative
When you learn another language, you’re also likely to be compelled to learn more about that culture in general. Then, you can become more creative and more inspired by what you ultimately learn.
There are so many experiences where empathy is important, both in our personal and professional lives. When you learn another language and ultimately also become more aware of that culture, then you’re more likely to also become an increasingly empathetic person.
Any time you can learn more about the perspective of other people, it’s beneficial to develop empathy.
When you expand your worldview and have empathy, you can become a better communicator.
Expanded Professional Options
Employers tend to prefer when their employees can speak another language, especially fluently. It works well across a variety of industries and job roles. You may find within your current job there are new opportunities available to you if you know a different language, or it could give you the leverage to explore other roles.
For students, there is evidence that learning a new language can help create improvements in other academic areas. For example, studies have shown that children and young people who know multiple languages tend to score higher on standardized exams in reading and math compared to students who know only one language.
Students may also be more adept at problem-solving tasks.
COVID-19 changed a lot of people’s perspectives and gave them the opportunity to perhaps learn new things that they wouldn’t have otherwise had time for. There are lessons we can take away from that now, a year after the start of the pandemic.
You might, for example, decide that it’s a compelling time for you to study a new language and develop the skills it can bring into your life.
Learning a new language can boost your brain, your career, your relationship, and your worldview. It can also make traveling a more immersive experience for you.