One of the best things you can learn at any age is a new language – we should all set aside time to learn something new, to better ourselves.
The alternative to betterment is holding yourself back – a survey by language learning app Babbel found that over a quarter of Americans feel that a lack of language skills has held them back professionally. If they really, really need motivation after that, they should consider these 7 ways learning a language can help.
As companies continue to expand internationally in today’s globalized economy, many employers are hiring skilled multilingual individuals, who are capable of conducting business in different languages and different countries. Speaking the local dialect helps develop an understanding of the local culture and the intricacies of doing business in a new country. This valuable skill creates stronger relationships that support positive, long-term business partnerships.
Learning a new language is a great confidence booster – it can help you become more outgoing, meet new people and drive you to travel to places you never thought you’d go to before. When you begin to actual use what you’ve learned in a real-life conversation, and have someone respond back to you, there is an irrefutable sense of accomplishment. Confidence exudes from within when you’re able to speak a new language like you’ve always wanted to.
Learning a second language has great advantages for both your decision-making skills, as well as your ability to multi-task. A study by Penn State University found that learning and speaking a new language improved the overall functionality of the brain, as it becomes more adept at seeking out meaning and reasoning in unfamiliar words. Similarly, switching from one language to another was found to improve our ability to multitask.
Just like our muscles improve and grow stronger with exercise, our brains function better the more we use them. Studies have found that language learning techniques like memorizing vocabulary helps to exercise the brain, improving its ability to memorize and retain information. In fact, it was found that bilinguals were more likely to remember names, shopping lists and directions than individuals who only spoke one language.
A 2012 study by Pompeu Fabra found that multilinguals were better at noticing false information and filtering it out as irrelevant. They were also better aware of their surroundings, allowing them to glaze over distractions and better focus on the tasks at hand.
Interestingly, learning and speaking a second language can actually improve your English. Focusing on the mechanics of a new language will make you pay more attention to the way you speak and write your own, and develop new ways of expressing yourself.
Being able to speak another language, even if you aren’t fluent, can often set you aside from other tourists. Rather than stick to English tours and tourist traps, knowing the local language will empower you to venture out on your own and experience a new city like a local.
Miriam Plieninger is Director of Didactics and part of the Management Team at Babbel, the language-learning app that empowers users to speak from the beginning. In language learning nothing is more rewarding than a real conversation — and 73% of surveyed customers feel that they’d be able to hold one within five hours of using the app.
This post was contributed as part of American Education Week is an annual event that not only celebrates teachers and their contributions to our lives, but also encourages us, whether we are children or adults