Have you ever wished you could speak a foreign language? If so, you probably know that learning a new language isn’t a walk in the park.
According to a recent study, almost half of Americans believe that it is important to speak as many languages as possible, even though English has become a proxy language around the world. So, it can be surprising to discover that three-quarters of Americans are monolingual, which means they only speak their mother tongue. A lot of second and third generation citizens, however, are at an advantage because they learn a non-English language from birth. This makes it easier to become fluent.
The opinions are divided as to whether you should be fully fluent in a foreign language or conversational only. But divergences in opinions depend on the context. For instance, Americans who are involved with international cultures as part of their day-to-day careers, are more likely to want to be fluent. Others may prefer to focus on being confident enough for holiday travels. Regardless of your language needs, however, it’s never too late to learn. Contrary to common belief, you don’t need to go back to school to improve your communication skills.
You can find accessible and manageable support and tutoring online, such as the Preply tutors online service which can help you learn at your own pace. So whether you’ve always been dreaming to impress your French-speaking neighbor with some words or finally understand South-Korean pop bands, there are plenty of options available. But there’s more to learning a new language than meets the eye.
Here are the top 7 reasons why foreign skills and learning a new language can make a big difference.
#1. It can help you change your career
Learning a new language offers a double advantage for professionals who are looking to boost their careers. Language skills may not be relevant to your job, but they can make your profile more appealing to recruiters. Many even acknowledge foreign languages as a sign of intelligence. Therefore, speaking a foreign language, even at a conversational level, is likely to make your resume stand out from the crowd.
Additionally, a foreign language exposes you to a different culture. Sometimes, we all need a cultural shock to reconsider our options. Indeed, different cultures tend to have a different approach to work-life, family commitments, and success. Discovering what success looks like for a Frenchman, for instance, could inspire you to think about your career goals. It’s an excellent opportunity to question what you want and figure out whether your career choice is right for you.
#2. You get to understand a new culture
Learning a new language exposes you to a new culture. Cultural understanding is not only important in a global environment, but it also helps you understand people at an individual level. As the world becomes a multicultural village, peaceful coexistence begins with respecting each other. Yet, our cultural background is similar to a pair of glasses.
You only see the world through a unique pair of glasses, your culture. As you learn a new language, you can start seeing the world the way people who speak this language do. For instance, behaviors that would have seemed rude before can make sense once you see them through a different light.
#3. You are a confident traveler
Do you feel confident planning your vacations abroad? A lot of Americans reject the idea of visiting a foreign country because they are concerned about cultural and linguistic differences. It’s not uncommon for travelers to worry about finding food they would enjoy or using public transport abroad. It’s understandable to feel confused when you don’t know what to expect.
Speaking a foreign language can help you make peace with travel anxiety by making a foreign culture more accessible. You get to see the many common things between the languages and the people so that traveling abroad feels less daunting.
#4. You become a better tourist
American tourists don’t have a good reputation abroad. A lot of countries describe us as rude individuals. Unfortunately, this has a lot to do with the way most people handle their social anxiety abroad. More often than not, the phrasebook you’ve packed for the trip is unlikely to provide the answer you need. Phrasebook conversations can be limited and too generalized.
As a result, a lot of tourists revert to speaking English, even in places where the locals are not fluent. This leads to misunderstandings and frustrations. But if you have a grasp of the local language, you can interact with the people around you. More importantly, you’re likely to avoid many of the inflated tourists’ fees if you can buy from local places.
#5. It keeps your brain active
Your brain constantly changes shape. It’s called brain plasticity, and this happens when you learn new skills. Keeping your brain active promotes plasticity and maintains brain health. So learning a new language is just what the doctor’s prescribed to keep your mind youthful, sharp, and clear. You’d be surprised to know that people who speak a foreign language tend to think faster than those who are monolingual. After all, brain plasticity improves the flow of ideas and cognitive abilities. So, even if you don’t need French at work, learning French could make you more productive.
#6. You can help your kids
If your kids are learning a foreign language at school, you can provide dedicated support. Only 20% of American students study a language at school. The most common languages taught in American schools are Spanish, French, German, and Italian. Learning together could be a fun experience.
#7. It improves your English
Most schools do not teach enough grammar to their students. As a result, a lot of people struggle to identify a dangling modifier, a verb from an adjective. Interestingly enough, when you decide to learn a foreign language, you will discover a new side to grammar. In many languages, the grammar rules are slightly different from English. Therefore, learning a foreign language can help you become more aware of the unique rules of the English language.
Are you ready to learn a new language? There’s so much to gain mentally and professionally in the process. Speaking a foreign language can, indeed, make you a better person.