The Wonders of Learning a Second Language

It is estimated that there are over 6,500 languages spoken in the world today. Learning a second language can provide many benefits, whether it be regarding job opportunities, cultural connections, or cognitive development.

First off, learning a second language gives access to more employment opportunities. Imagine that you are about to apply for a highly competitive job. Out of a pool of 100 candidates, being bilingual is a factor that can make you stand out from the crowd! In fact, more than 80% of employers prefer bilingual employees in the workplace. Speaking more than one language means that you can connect with more clients of different cultures. If one day a customer who does not speak English walks into the store you are working in, and you happen to speak their language, you can readily serve them. Thus, by learning a second language, you attract more clientele. Moreover, if you speak French, then this can serve as an asset in Canada. There are numerous government jobs, such as the RCMP, that value bilingualism in their employees and prefer that you speak in the nation’s two official languages.

In addition, learning a second language connects you to individuals of other cultures. If you are learning Spanish, for example, you are not only learning how to conjugate verbs, write, and read in the language, but also about the many cultures that Spanish is associated with. You learn about all of the festivals and cultural celebrations that exist in Spanish-speaking countries. So, learning a second language allows you to explore the culture it has to offer. By acquiring a second language, you can also visit the world. Imagine how cool it would be to go to France, and to be able to speak with others in French!

In terms of cognitive advantages, memory can be improved when learning a new language. There are so many grammar rules to learn, and there are many times when you need to recall and apply new words you have learned. As a result, multilingual people tend to have more exercised and quicker brains to recall names, directions, facts, and figures. Multitasking is also improved through learning a second language. Being able to switch from one language to another requires a lot of practice. A study from Pennsylvania State University reveals that multilingual people are much better multi-taskers, which can, overall, reduce a person’s stress levels.

Learning a second language also helps boost your confidence. People are often scared of making mistakes when speaking or writing in a language that is not their mother tongue. It can be frustrating when you are fluent in one language but struggle in another. Yet, once we overcome this fear, we not only improve our skills in the language, but we become more confident when we present ourselves in front of others.

According to a study conducted by the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain, multilingual people are also better at observing their surroundings. They can easily detect things that are irrelevant or deceptive. They are also better when it comes to detecting false information. The study compared multilingual and monolingual subjects, with the former clearly outperforming the latter.

To many people, learning a foreign language means learning an entirely new and complex set of rules, structures, and lexis. Learning a new language requires your brain to deal with complexity as it attempts to understand and take in new patterns. As our brains attempt to communicate by deciphering meaning, key learning skills such as cognitive thinking and problem-solving are developed. These are two critical thinking skills that are extremely beneficial both personally and professionally.

Now that we have covered the benefits of acquiring a second language, a few tips can help you stay motivated during your learning. To start off, make sure to practice consistently. Practicing once a week does not cut it, as you will most likely be stuck in a never-ending cycle of having to re-learn what you learned the previous week. It is better to do a little bit of learning every day. Even five or 10 minutes per day can do wonders. Furthermore, practice does not only have to be in the form of grammar exercises; you can also watch T.V. shows in the language you are learning or listen to songs. This should help you with oral production and improving your pronunciation. Last but not least, do not be afraid to make mistakes! It is completely normal to feel embarrassed when you make an error, but remember that mistakes are a part of life. Simply learn what you did wrong, correct the error, and move on. The worst thing to do would be to not try at all!

Overall, there are so many benefits that are associated when it comes to learning a second language. Whichever language you choose to take up, you are sure to open many doors to new opportunities and cultures.

ReferencesRao, Karthik, and Karthik Rao. “Top 10 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language.” Eton Institute, 2 July 2020, etoninstitute.com/blog/top-10-benefits-of-learning-a-foreign-language