Unless you’re born and raised in a multilingual environment, studying and mastering a foreign language generally requires months, if not years, of hard work and perseverance. Now more than ever, it seems that hard work is well worth the effort. It is estimated that 40 to 50 percent of the current world population speaks at least two languages. Beyond a speaker’s satisfaction in being proficient in different languages, recent trends highlight significant benefits of being multilingual. Having a bilingual brain comes with a lot of perks: from improved health to increased creativity and enhanced job opportunities. Let’s delve into some of the outstanding benefits of being bilingual.
It will sharpen your communication and social skills
Numerous studies have supported that early exposure to multiple languages is key to enhancing children’s communication skills, as shown in the study Exposure to multiple languages enhances communication skills in infancy published by the National Library of Medicine, 2018. The earlier a child is exposed to two languages, the easier it will be for them to pick up each language and achieve a native accent. A 2013 study revealed that bilingual children as young as 20 months are able to understand code-mixed sentences (sentences in which two languages are spoken). As we age, we reap the benefits of a bilingual brain: the more languages spoken, the easier we’re able to connect with people from different backgrounds.
It will improve your competitiveness on the job market
Following the rise of the global economy, the majority of job postings require mastering a second language, the most popular being Spanish, French and German. Learning a second language provides a competitive edge over other applicants and makes you stand out among hiring managers, all the more so if you’re applying for a multinational company. It often comes with higher salary potential. According to recent findings, bilingual employees can earn up to 10 percent more per hour than their monolingual peers. Overall, having a bilingual profile makes you more valuable from your employer’s perspective, and you’ll be more likely to be sent on overseas meetings and negotiations.
It increases awareness of other cultures and improves your travel experience
When it comes to travelling, reaching fluency in the local language will help create a much more immersive experience. Being proficient in two languages facilitates meeting and communicating with people from around the world during your travels. By mastering two (or more) languages, Eight compelling reasons to start learning a new language this year Unless you’re born and raised in a multilingual environment, studying and mastering a foreign language generally requires months, if not years, of hard work and perseverance. Now more than ever, it seems that hard work is well worth the effort. It is estimated that 40 to 50 percent of the current world population speaks at least two languages. Beyond a speaker’s satisfaction in being proficient in different languages, recent trends highlight significant benefits of being multilingual.Having a bilingual brain comes with a lot of perks: from improved health to increased creativity and enhanced job opportunities. Let’s delve into some of the outstanding benefits of being bilingual. You’ll get by a lot easier in most countries, and make your travels more memorable. You’ll be able to talk spontaneously with the locals, find tourist-free spots and order the right food in local joints. Everything becomes more seamless and more fun! Mastering more than one language provides a gateway to other cultures: French culture, English culture, Spanish culture, German culture, Italian culture… all within reach.
Speaking several languages helps you multitask
Studies suggest that learning another language can help us organise the challenges of everyday life. Switching between two languages develops cognitive abilities and enhances the capacity to prioritise tasks. Bilinguals are also better able to work on several projects at the same time. “Bilinguals have two sets of language rules in mind, and their brains apparently are wired to toggle back and forth between them depending on the circumstances,” says Peggy McCardle of the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. These linguistic gymnastics have a direct impact on daily
It improves analytical capacity
Speaking several languages also helps prioritise important information and ignore irrelevant details. According to Judith Kroll, professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University, bilinguals have a more highly developed analytical capacity than monolinguals. Beyond this purely cognitive aspect, researchers from the University of Chicago have shown that learning a language develops a greater ability in children to perceive others’ intentions. They are better able to grasp the speaker’s point of view, and all the other elements inherent to the dialogue (Who is talking to whom? In what language? What is the context?). Their intuitive powers of perception are thus superior to those of monolingual children.
It stimulates the brain
Researchers encourage learning a foreign language at an early age. Since brain plasticity is at its greatest in children, learning a language is much easier and faster than learning as an adult. While it declines with age, brain plasticity is something that can be maintained, particularly through new learning that will stimulate neural wiring and develop cognitive abilities. According to the study Use it or Lose it: How Neurogenesis Keeps the Brain Fit for Learning published in 2012 by Rutgers University, putting neural stem cells to work is the only way to make them functional and thus create new connections. Learning a language contributes to preserving (or slowing the decline) of our mental capacities.
A source of pleasure
Another language study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Otto Von Guericke University in Germany and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, showed that learning a new word in another language activated the reward centre, which is located in the same pleasure zone as sex! Mastering a new language is a major challenge, but it is also a source of personal growth and fulfilment. The more we progress in a language and the more we master it, the more our self-esteem is strengthened. Moreover, learning a language is also discovering a new culture, and a new way of thinking. This open-mindedness enables us to create connections with others more easily, and therefore to feel socially included, which makes us happier!
It is good for your memory
In 2011, a study conducted by a team of Canadian researchers revealed that bilinguals began to experience memory loss one to four years later than monolinguals. The same study demonstrated that learning a second language not only stimulates the brain but also delays the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (including confusion, memory loss or the inability to solve problems). “Being bilingual has certain cognitive benefits and boosts the performance of the brain, especially one of the most important areas known as the executive control system.” said psychologist Ellen Bialystok at York University in Toronto.