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14 Apr Top 10 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

In a globalized world, where mobility is facilitated, learning a language is a wonderful benefit. Not only does it help when traveling, it is also a great advantage for studying in general and for career prospects abroad. Acquiring a second language enables us to develop various mental abilities at all ages.

1. Boosts brain power

A foreign language is a whole new intricate system of rules, structures, and lexis. Learning a new language means your brain has to cope with complexity as it makes sense of and absorbs new patterns. As our brains work out the meaning, endeavoring to communicate, we develop key learning skills such as cognitive thinking and problem-solving. Highly developed critical thinking skills are a significant benefit both personally and professionally.

2. Improves memory

Use it or lose it. How many times have you heard that phrase? It is a simple fact – the more the brain is used, the better its functions work. A new language requires not only familiarity with vocabulary and rules, but also being able to recall and apply this knowledge. Learning a language gives your memory a good work out in the brain gym. This means that multilingual people have brains that are more exercised and quick to recall names, directions, facts, and figures.

3. Enhances the ability to multi-task

Multi-tasking is very stressful for those who are not used to it or don’t do it well. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, people who are multilingual and proficient at slipping from one language system to another are practiced at this very demanding work for the brain. People who have developed the ability to think in different languages and move from one to the other become much better multi-taskers, reducing stress levels.

4. Sharpens the mind

A study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They easily spot anything that is irrelevant or deceptive. They’re also better at spotting misleading information. The study was conducted comparing multilingual and monolingual subjects and the former notably had the edge. Is it any surprise that famous, fictional detective characters such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are skilled linguists?

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5. Keeps the mind sharper for longer

Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. Language learning keeps your brain healthy. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.

6. Enhances decision-making

According to a study from the University of Chicago, decision-making ability becomes an easier process for multilingual people. Aside from the rules and vocabulary that go with learning a foreign language, there are nuances and regional expressions that a student of language frequently judges for appropriateness and hidden meanings. Multilinguals are more confident in their decision-making choices as a result of practice, practice, practice!

7. The first language is improved

Learning a new language makes you more conscious of the nuts and bolts of your own language. Terms such as vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, comprehension, idioms and sentence structure become everyday phrases, whereas your own language is probably absorbed more intuitively. Learning a new language also makes you a better listener as you are used to having to interpret meaning and judge nuances.

8. Improves performance in other academic areas

As a result of higher cognitive skills, studies show that the benefits of learning a new language include higher scores on standardized exams in math, reading comprehension and vocabulary by multilingual students compared to the scores of monolingual students. Children may ask why they have to learn this language, but parents and teachers know better! Language skills boost your ability to do well in problem-solving tasks across the board, a fact recognized through compulsory foreign language learning curriculum in schools.

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9. Increases networking skills

Opening up to a culture allows you to be more flexible and appreciative of other people’s opinions and actions. As a result, if you are multilingual, you have the advantage of seeing the world from different viewpoints, enhancing your ability to communicate in today’s globally connected world.

10. Provides better career choices

According to Eton Institute’s Language Development in the Workforce survey (September 2014), 89% of our clients stated that multilingual employees add value to the workforce and 88% stated that recruiting team members with language skills is important to their organization. A multilingual ability is definitely a competitive edge in today’s world.

Language learning helps develop strong cognitive skills, such as a better concept formation, mental flexibility, multitasking, listening skills and problem-solving, in addition to improving social interaction and encouraging connection between peers. What’s your next language?

Learn a new language and start enjoying the benefits of a sound mental health.

1Comment
  • Henry Stivenson
    Posted at 20:33h, 09 October

    Few people know about a pragmatic, efficient way to learn a new language. Those who do, advance in learning steadily and according to their schedule. While most people find themselves learning a new language as a necessity, many others do it because it is fun. It feels more sophisticated to know more than one language. It can be highly beneficial in your life over the long run. However, it is not an easy task to learn a new language no matter whether it is for fun or out of necessity. You’ve probably seen friends or acquaintances talk about wanting to learn a foreign language, then enthusiastically purchasing products, books, and maybe even enrolling into a course or program, only to ultimately see the reality of the fact that they have failed in their pursuit of learning another language. According to The Guardian, the ICM survey, which questioned 1,001 young people aged 14-24 from across the UK in June this year, paints a picture of a generation perhaps surprisingly open to the prospect of language learning, but often deeply lacking in the confidence of their ability to put their language studies into practice. Three in ten who chose not to study a language at GCSE or A-level say language learning is challenging, with almost half of all those questioned regarding grammar as difficult to learn and 40% seeing memorizing vocabulary as hard work. The research had indicated that A-level languages are perceived as being harder than other subjects and their content is demotivating. Sitting down with a language textbook and trying to teach yourself a new language is not only boring, it takes an inordinate amount of time. It can take months to capture the basics of a particular language. Fluency comes far later. Often, we don’t have the luxury of spending months learning a language. For example, those people who are migrating or taking up a job abroad.
    However as an individual learner or with a tutor, the student can cut down the time it takes him/her to master the basics of a new language. There are methods that can be used to reduce the time it takes.
    Main Essentials of Learning a New Language – They distinguish three main essentials associated with learning a new language; namely the vocabulary, basic sentence elements / patterns, and grammar rules. Vocabulary – the most basic step towards learning a new language is to learn its words. Familiarity with the words will lead you to form sentences. Sentence Patterns and Elements – this has to do with how you ask and answer questions. Making coherent sentences is the way to make someone understand what you are saying. The ability will also help you understand what others are saying and how you might respond. Grammar Rules – Each language has certain rules that need to be followed.
    There is a special type of media developed for the first and second component – a bilingual graded book. Bilingual graded books are also called bilingual graded readers. They offer a parallel translation that allows the user to learn a new language in less time. With the translation on the same page, learners can effortlessly learn what any unfamiliar words mean. They can quickly pick up new vocabulary and phrases that are used over and over in texts of bilingual graded books. When they read a graded bilingual reader, they can pick up chunks of language and vocabulary that they can use in conversation and other real-world applications. It also significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to become conversational in a new language. As you read a bilingual reader, your brain begins to remember words and phrases simply because you are exposed to them several times. You don’t even realize, until you have to recall what you’ve learned, that you have already learned the new words and phrases. Listen to the audio tracks that should always accompany a bilingual graded book to learn how words are said and to improve your overall ability to speak the new language. A good idea is to use the free VLC media player to control the playing speed. You can control the playing speed by decreasing or increasing the speed value on the button of the VLC media player’s interface.
    Decide what is better for you a paper book or an e-book. Many of the e-readers by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo have dictionaries pre-loaded on their devices, with options to download additional ones, for free. If you do not have an e-reader, you do not have to buy one, because you can download it as a free app to your phone and use it right away. Writing your own notes, searching or making highlights is ridiculously simple with an e-reader or e-reading app. Anything you do with an e-book is also synced to the cloud, ensuring any change will follow you, no matter what device you are on.
    At first search on Google for “bilingual graded books” or “bilingual graded books for beginners”. Choose and buy a book on a suitable topic, for example general, business, medical, culinary, dialogues, students, cooking, family, tourists, detective, short story or whatever you like. Read it for about twenty minutes a day. If you do it every day, you will be surprised how much you can learn in a month’s time. Try to use the target language after you have learned for a month. If you don’t have an opportunity to talk to native speakers at home or at work/study, use your target language in small talk on Skype or another online chat. Search on Google for “free online clean chat rooms” and pick up the one that suits your interests. Two or three minutes of small talk two or three times a week or more often will give you some motivation and encourage you to learn new questions and answers for new dialogues. Compile a list of questions and answers for your dialogues in a target language or find them on Google with keywords “Bilingual graded books dialogues” and try using them.
    Don’t be afraid of making errors. They are your steps to success. You will spot and correct them sooner or later anyway. They will not be for the rest of your life. Better not to talk at all than to talk incorrectly? Wrong! Start talking as much as you can! Your language will improve every time you talk. A learner who knows only a hundred words and isn’t shy of talking will progress more quickly than the one who knows a thousand words but remains silent because he or she is afraid of saying something wrong.
    It can usually take you from one to three months to finish a bilingual graded reader at beginner level (A1) and elementary level (A2). The amount of time depends on your previous experience with learning foreign languages and on your personal abilities. At this point you should be able to ask and answer simple questions with the following questioning words: What? Who? Where? When? Which? How many/much? As you improve and become more confident in your ability to use the new language, you can move on to the next reader level and continue your language-learning journey. After using a bilingual graded book for a week or two you are ready to study grammar rules, so buy a good grammar book. A grammar book will satisfy your curiosity about grammar rules awakened by the bilingual graded book. Read the grammar book to find out how you can use your target language more precisely. Follow this order – first read a reading book, then use a grammar book and exercises to make your learning experience uninterrupted.
    Language text with a parallel translation has helped many to uncover their potential for learning multiple languages. Whether you are learning a language as a hobby or for a necessary purpose, you will find such books are supportive. Using them is by far more pragmatic, efficient way to learn a new language than a “learn a language in two weeks” program. However you should frequently use the target language by using bilingual graded books with audio tracks, grammar books, chats, internet pages and even songs to maintain your motivation and progress. Remember – twenty minutes a day does the magic!

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