Why learning another language is worth your time.
- Improved cognitive ability — Learning another language challenges your intellect, requiring you to think of things in new ways. Perhaps the best way to keep you mind healthy is to keep it active and exercise it in new and exciting ways. Learning another language not only requires you to think extensively about the words you use, but how to form the correct sounds in your mouth.
- Greater understanding of English — If you are looking to increase your understanding of the grammar and structure of English, perhaps the best way is to leave it behind and learn another language. It didn’t matter how many times English teachers in high school tried to teach me about prepositions, gerunds, and adverbial clauses, I never quite got it. Learning another language requires you to dissect your language, twisting the phrases around until the sentence structure is correct.
- Being able to understand a foreign language — Perhaps the best advantage of being able to speak a foreign language is obvious. Walking out into the street, you can understand so much more of what is going on around you. I loved returning from Peru (where I learned Spanish) and watching Toy Story 3. I was able to understand every word when Buzz Lightyear was accidentally got set to the “Spanish mode.” I can also pick up bits of Portuguese and Italian if I listen closely.
- Increased cultural sensitivity — It is difficult to immerse yourself in the language of another without learning to love the people that speak it. Being able to read Don Quixote in the original Spanish gives you a completely different experience. Speaking another language helps you to more completely immerse yourself in another culture.
- Better employment options — According to Forbes.com, bilingual employees earn 1.7% - 4% more than their counterparts. With the globalization of business, the world has become much smaller. The demand for bilingual employees is destined to continue growing.
- Independence while abroad — Next time you go out galavanting on a global trip to Asia, it wouldn’t hurt knowing a little Japanese. Being able to communicate directly with others will eliminate the need for a translator. This not only cuts the cost significantly, but will grant you a more intimate experience immersing yourself in the culture.
- Helps you to have a keener ear — Learning another language demands that you listen keenly and distinguish between different words. Reproducing those sounds requires you to listen attentively to the sounds you, yourself are making.
- Graduate school — Though your GPA and test scores are important for getting into graduate school, many look at other qualifications as well. Speaking a second language distinguishes you from the crowd and shows your persistence. The study skills you pick up while becoming bilingual will also help you take on the increased workload of graduate school.
- To forge relationships with other people — Although people all over the world are learning English, it is a great show of respect to take the time to learn another language. Speaking the language with a native speaker is an excellent way to put them at ease and form friendships.
- You can have secret conversations — Although this doesn’t necessarily top the list, I remember one time when my sister and I talked about what we were going to get my dad for Father’s Day right in front of him. This benefit can easily be turned negatively but it has often served as discreet way of communicating.
There are huge benefits to learning another language. The experience not only helps you learn about other cultures, but also about yourself.
Derek Gurr is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.