The world is now a global community. In today’s increasingly interconnected world knowing one language is not enough. Learning a foreign or a heritage language can be an asset. Some research proves that balanced bilinguals are more likely to graduate from high school, pursue higher education, secure better jobs, and earn more money than those who speak only one language. Apart from that, it allows you to engage with the world in a more meaningful way—whether in your own community or abroad, while working or just traveling —while preparing you to better compete in the globalized world.
Here is the list of reasons why two (three, four, etc.) is better than one:
Better Understanding of Other Cultures
Learning a foreign language allows you to learn about different cultures without having to travel. It creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different, fosters an appreciation for other traditions, religions, arts, and history. Understanding of other cultures promotes greater tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of others.
Travel More Easily
The ability to understand and speak a local language can revolutionize a trip abroad. While knowing just English can certainly help you go places, travelers who speak more than one language are more easily able to navigate outside the tourist bubble. Especially knowing the language of your destination allows you to connect and interact with the place and its people on a deeper level, which is often not available to those without the language.
Improve Brain Power
Studying and mastering more than one language improves the executive function of the brain. According to a study conducted by psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee, bilingual people tend to be more intelligent. Foreign language study enhances listening, problem-solving skills and memory. One of the main reasons why multilingual people develop this heightened intelligence is because their brains are required to constantly shift between languages and adapt to a changing environment. Multilingual people display signs of greater creativity and flexibility. Knowing several languages also helps to slow down mental aging and cognitive decline.
Increase Competitiveness in the Job Market
One of the elements that can help advance a career or land a dream job is knowing an additional language. Speaking foreign languages provides a competitive edge in career choices. In some industries, like tourism, airline business, journalism, knowing multiple languages is a serious competitive advantage. The demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially across different sectors. Many employers nowadays seek to expand overseas markets, as well as serve and sell to a large foreign-born population at home. Language skills can also lead to promotions, business trips overseas, bonuses and increased salaries. Whatever your career aspiration your marketable skills in the global economy are improved if you master another language.
Ability to Learn our History
Learning other languages helps to understand other cultures and history. Some cultures are very deeply rooted in their language. When studying a language, you’ll learn the etymology of specific words and language construction, the history of the language and discover how it relates to the people that speak it. Learning a language not only offers a sense of the past, both culturally and linguistically, but it also improves the knowledge of one’s own tongue. Learning about another culture sheds light on aspects of our own culture, both positive and negativу, and can help discover similarities and differences of different cultures. Learning some of the languages can also help to learn other languages, as we naturally draw comparisons to what we already know.
Improve Other Skills
It is hard to overestimate the benefits of learning languages. Apart from improving soft, hard and interpersonal skills, it also improves skills like problem-solving, decision making, dealing with abstract concepts, and more. According to some studies, knowing a second language improves your skills in other disciplines, like math, and SAT and GRE scores.
The integral part of learning a new language is making mistakes, often in front of an audience. It may be intimidating and discouraging, especially for adult learners, but it is an unavoidable part of the process. Learning a language means putting yourself out there and stepping out of your comfort zone. Deciding to start learning a new language is a big accomplishment per se. The upside is the amazing feeling of accomplishment and boost in confidence you’ll feel when conversing with someone in their native language.
The advantages of learning foreign languages are many. It is not only about standing out from the crowd. In today’s globalized world speaking more than one language is almost a necessity. Whether you are a heritage learner or have decided to start learning languages as an adult, whether you do it for career or just for fun, you never know where the journey of mastering a foreign tongue can take you. So, be open to new learning opportunities, do not get discouraged if it takes more time to master your language skills, and just enjoy the process.