19 Nov 5 Surprising Benefits of Learning a Second Language
Learning a new language can be hard work. No matter how much time you have on your hands or how smart you are, the level of dedication it demands is more than most people have. Therefore, anyone making a commitment to learning a new language will, no doubt, have a very good reason!
On the upside, all the time spent over watching language videos, pouring over books, and pronouncing tongue-twisting new words is an investment with rich rewards in the long run. If you only know one language, learning a new language is addictive, fun and opens up new cultures as well as science! It is proven to grow and sharpen your mind in more ways than you can imagine.
Here are the five most surprising benefits you will enjoy by learning a foreign language.
1. Learning a New Language Reshapes and Strengthens the Brain’s Neural Networks
According to research carried out by Dr. Judith Kroll at Penn State, learning a new language has tremendous positive effects in the brain’s neural networks. If you are monolingual or bilingual and learn a completely different language, because of the increased language processing capacity in the brain, re-alignment of neural networks and the growth of new connections is inevitable. Dr. Kroll, a cognitive scientist, argues that this is because the two languages will constantly be in competition for brain space, enabling you to have greater cognitive power. To the brain, learning and using a different language provides the much-needed built-in workout that exercises the brain as a muscle thus forcing it to adapt through growth.
2. Learning a New language Changes How you See Other People and the World
If a family of dogs adopts a kitten, will the cat eventually bark or meow? Well, new studies researching the effects of bilingualism on a child have revealed that people who speak more than one language tend to have a more inclusive view of the world around them than their monolingual counterparts. The study found that monolingual children see other people as immutable and more innate, while those who are bilingual tend to see the world as a fluid place where the environment shapes who we become. Even for adults, learning to speak another language adds the much-needed perception that the brain requires to appreciate the remarkable effect of the environment on its view of the world.
3. Learning a New Language Adds a New Dimension to Who You Are
Science has proven that being able to speak multiple languages is a lot like being different people in one body. Albeit, but in a good way. A 2008 study on people speaking more than one language revealed that bilinguals are subtly different people in many ways depending on the language they happen to be speaking. For instance, a woman speaking English and Spanish may seem, and even feel, more assertive and extroverted when speaking Spanish and more submissive when speaking English. The split personality effect happens because people discover different cultural associations tied with new languages that bring out the best (or worst) in them.
4. Learning a New Language Improves the Person’s Nonverbal Communication Skills
If you learn to speak a foreign language, the skills acquired during practice will also help you improve your non-verbal communication. A study published in 2015 tested the ability of children to communicate effectively from the perspectives of other people and found that children who speak more than one language were better communicators than monolingual children. Learning a new language would help you understand other people’s intentions and also help you express yourself better to people you may not share a common language with. This has been corroborated by another study from the University of Washington which found that bilingual internet users express themselves better and understand other people well in online communication.
5. Learning a New Language Makes a Person More Rational
According to an article by Business Insider, bilingual people are better entrepreneurs because they are more rational thinkers as they have the capacity to think in their native language as well as a foreign language. Monolingual people tend to see things more emotionally, especially when they are working in a foreign environment, and have more biased thinking patterns that may prevent them from making strategic long-term decisions. Being able to reason in a different language is akin to thinking differently (quite literally) therefore helping reinforce the speakers’ positive personal characteristics and supporting their career growth.
Learning a new language has a lot more great benefits. For instance, learning and using a new phrase or word in a new language lights up the brain’s reward centers meaning that it causes a natural high—much linked eating chocolate or falling in love.
So, if you are mono or bilingual, consider learning a new language and experience for yourself all the benefits it has to offer!
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