Learning a second language is like having a new vision for your life. The learning process and sacrifices may appear insurmountable and time taking may look forever but the long term future benefits cannot be over- mentioned. At Laclic Services , we came up with some of the benefits that comes with learning a second language:
- Career Advantages: People who have fluency in at least two languages (their native and a second one) are in greater demand in the job market, and will often “beat” the competition because of that second language. Any company that has or plans to have an international presence will almost always select the candidate with 2nd language proficiency.
- Better Travel Experiences: When individuals speak the native language of countries they visit, they are able to establish immediate rapport with the “locals” and are thus more intimately immersed in the culture, learning things that a typical “foreigner” would not. On several occasions in my travels throughout Central and South America, I was invited into homes for meals and great discussions about politics, economics, and such. My perspectives have certainly been broadened.
- Improved understanding of grammatical structure in one’s native language: This I discovered first-hand as well. Just learning verb tenses in another language allowed me to identify them in English and made me a better English teacher.
- Brain Health: Medical studies now indicate that the part of the brain that controls language function is improved through the learning of a foreign language. More recent studies also indicate that learning a foreign language late in life appears to delay dementia and Alzheimer’s. An important study by Dr. Thomas Bak at the University of Edinburgh and replicated at the Perleman Medical School at the U. of Pennsylvania show that the attention mechanisms of the brain area “stretched” and kept active when older adults work on learning a foreign language.
- Cognitive Benefits: Studies also show that children who grow up in households in which two languages are spoken and become fluent in both of those languages have greater ability to focus in school. They also appear to have better short- and long-term memory functions. Some studies suggest that students do better on standardized testing, and are better able to remember lists and sequences.
- Personal Satisfaction: Learning a second language comes with personal satisfaction. There is always of feeling of accomplishment when one masters something, and that goes for learning a language. Not only do I feel “accomplished,” but I enjoy going to a Mexican restaurant and having the ability to converse with the owners and wait staff in their native language. When I see a Hispanic family at the store, conversing in Spanish, I love greeting the young children and engaging them is simple conversation. Parents are pleasantly surprised and, I believe, feel a bit more respected.
We all know that children pick up a foreign language much more easily than adults, and that is why, of course, such instruction is begun at the elementary levels in most public schools today. But learning languages as adults and senior citizens now appears to have terrific benefits – maybe I’ll resurrect my study of French! Want to find out more, click here.