Research carried out by the LLAS Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies identified over 700 reasons for studying foreign languages, drawn from academic literature, policy documents and the voices of language learners themselves. These reasons fall into 70 key areas where languages are important or give a direct benefit to language learners.
Check out the top reasons why learning a new language can have so many benefits, not just upon yourself, but also for the people around you.
1. Gain personal satisfaction/developing self-confidence
Personal satisfaction was the top reason cited by language learners themselves for learning another language. It really comes as a natural mechanism that every time you learn something new, you feel proud and good about yourself. By learning a new language, you will feel you have developed so much intellectually and emotionally as well. This feeling of empowerment will inevitably have a strong and positive impact on self-esteem.
2. Feeding your brain and keeping your mental health
Learning languages develops both cognitive skills (e.g. the ability to analyse, interpret, and evaluate material critically), and practical skills (e.g. speaking and writing in the second language as well as in ones native language).
When you learn a new language, you not only keep your neurons working, but according to several medical studies, you will also keep brain diseases like Alzheimer and dementia away. Apparently, people who only speak their native language have increased chances of developing one of the diseases, as opposed to bilingual people.
3. Enhancing career opportunities and earn a higher income
In the ongoing globalised society of today, it goes without saying that speaking one or two foreign languages will bring you a huge benefit career wise. Learning a new language can not only open up many opportunities in employment, but you can also develop a new business; speaking with potential customers or clients in their own language can often make all the difference. Companies are always hunting candidates who possess this great asset of knowing a certain foreign language, preferably providing proof of your knowledge with a language certificate.
In addition, the jobs that involve advanced knowledge of foreign languages are often very well paid, specifically if you speak a language that is considered rare or exotic in your local area. As an employee in Sweden, for instance, knowledge of Portuguese will be considered highly more valued, as opposed to knowledge of English as most Swedish people speak this language.
4. Getting to understand your language a little better
This may sound a little strange because you already understand your native language perfectly, right? Sure you do, but heres an interesting phenomenon that happens when you learn a foreign language: you will focus your attention on the grammatical rules of the new language you learn, inevitably comparing these with the grammar rules of your native language. This situation will bring you some Eureka! moments, making you see and acknowledge your own language from a different point of view and better understand language phrases and etymology.
5. Travelling becomes way more fun
As you already saw, languages can lead to greater mobility for career reasons, but they also lead to having no communication barriers when it comes to leisure travel. Especially if you speak the official language of the country you are travelling, you will have no problem in communicating and having a discussion with the local people. In fact, communicating will become more fun, not only because you will be able to understand what people say, but because you will enhance your social skills. Interacting with people from a different country will ultimately lead to learning new details about their culture, which is always one of the most interesting things when you travel to a new place.
6. Developing empathy and becoming a better person
Probably it has something to do with reason no.1 (developing self-confidence), but apparently, polyglots are the kind of people that are more outgoing and warm. Lets recap: when you learn a new language, you also learn a few cultural aspects, which leads to better understanding of the native people who speak that language. This means that you become empathetic and most likely, people will see you as a pleasant and lovable person.
7. Earn a broader perspective on global matters
As a result of the fact that you will develop empathy, become an open person, and have a clearer view on the history and culture of other nations, ultimately you will attain a better understanding of the way the world works, including politics and security. It may seem an overstatement, but think about how many analogies will you be able to make between language or linguistics and social, economic or even political events.
Speakers of more than one language can contribute positively to developments in international relations or national security, and multilingualism is at the heart of institutions like the European Union. Learning another language will offer an advantage in todays globalized world, and will help you understand diversity within your own society as well. It will also give you skills in intercultural competence that will be applicable to any multilingual or multicultural context.
What is your reason for studying a new language? Read more reasons, and suggest your own, at LLAS Centre for Languages.