Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm
In a world of google translate, subtitles and translation apps, you may be asking yourself if you actually need to learn a second, third or maybe even fourth language?
Does learning another language still hold the benefit it once did?
Well, as keen linguaphiles, we’re here to tell you why learning a language is still one of the best things you can do with your time.
You should learn a new language because it comes with a whole lot of fun and benefits that positively affect all areas of your life.
From our brain health to our career, the way we communicate with others to our cultural appreciation, learning a new language isn't just about picking up a new skill.
Yes, translation apps are tempting, but they don't come with half of the benefits you'll get from sitting down and studying a language yourself.
Below, we delve into the exact reason why learning a new language will always be worth your time.
Learning a New Language is Good for your Brain
The brain is perhaps the most complex organ in the human body, and just like any other part of our body, we have to keep it healthy if we want it to work as it should.
Learning a foreign language is a great way to build brain health helping us to improve our memory, boost our concentration, aid creativity and prevent degenerative brain conditions.
Preventing Degenerative Brain Conditions
Perhaps one of the most significant advantages to learning a new language is the benefits it has on our brains, which includes helping to reduce the effects and chances of degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, a study in Italy on dementia patients found that bilingual individuals who contracted Alzheimer’s disease showed symptoms an average of four and a half years later compared to those that were monolingual.
They believe that this is because bilingual individuals typically have increased connectivity in areas of the brain that are usually affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Having these greater levels of connection in this area of the brain means that bilingual brains are, on average, more resilient to damage caused by conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As such, learning another language may very well reduce your chances of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s or delay their symptoms for people that will eventually develop these conditions.
Improving Everyday Performance
The brains of people who speak two or more languages are accustomed to quickly switching between different languages, which means multilingual people often perform better in tasks that involve multi-tasking
To add to this, bilingual brains typically display an increased ability to quickly discard irrelevant stimulus and as such show better focus and attention on tasks at hand. A benefit we could all do with in our personal and professional lives.
How Else Does our Brain Benefit from Learning Another Language?
The benefits of learning a foreign language for the brain don't end there. Its also been proven to improve memory, creativity and cognition.
Numerous studies have shown that the benefits of learning a new language occur regardless of the age you start learning, so, it's never too late to start.
Multiple studies conducted around the world have also shown that learning a new language improves memory, attention, cognition, creativity and potentially gives greater protection from degenerative brain conditions.
So why should you learn a new language? One answer is that your brain will thank you for it later.
Cultural, Communicative and Career Benefits
One of the most obvious, but perhaps understated, reasons why you should learn a new language is so you can talk to more people.
Learning a foreign language benefits cultural appreciation and diversity and encourages people from all over the world to interact with one another.
The benefits of learning a new language are particularly felt while travelling. Speaking French in France or Spanish in Spain will mean that, not only can you communicate with people better, but you can immerse yourself fully in the local culture which will only make your travel experience all the richer.
Improved Communication in Your Native Tongue
Learning the art of communication is severely underrated.
Mastering a new language helps you to communicate with both people who speak a different language, as well as those that speak your native tongue.
Speaking another language helps you to understand the subtleties and nuances of language.
When you understand and investigate the finer points of language you begin to understand and incorporate these finer points into your own mother tongue, making you an expert communicator in whatever language you are speaking.
Opening Doors in Your Career Path
In many cases, learning a foreign language benefits your career. A survey conducted by the Eton Institute found that 88% of employers agree that multilingual employees bring added value to the workplace.
In this globalised world, many employers now favour candidates that speak multiple languages and knowing a second language can potentially improve your performance in some roles.
A report published by the BBC looked at a study involving people who speak in a foreign language in the workplace. It found that these people often took a more analytical approach to scenarios, and had a better sense of negotiation.
As well as this, a study by the University of Chicago discovered that multilingual people often displayed an enhanced decision-making ability. The ability to effectively and efficiently make decisions is not only important in a professional setting but provides benefits to every aspect of your daily life.
So, the decision to learn a new language may not only help you land your dream job but may help you to excel in the role as well.
So, is it Hard to Learn a New Language?
Learning a new language doesn't have to be hard.
There are loads of resources out there that suit every type of learner.
Ultimately, it comes down to finding the method of studying that works best for you.
Online language courses are a great resource for anyone wanting to learn a new language. They provide a fantastic way for you to start exploring a language and get some of the basics down before taking it into a real-world setting.
Note: We just so happen to have a number of Bite Size Online Courses in French, Spanish, Russian, German and more, if you’re looking to improve your listening skills.
Language classes are another potential avenue if you prefer to learn in a more structured setting, and these can also be combined with online courses for maximum effect. Learning a new language within a group always tends to be beneficial to learning it by yourself.
Whether you choose a language course online or in a classroom, speaking to people who already know the language can be an incredibly valuable method of learning a new language,
This will help you to figure out any areas you may struggle with as well as giving you a better sense of how different words and phrases organically fit into a conversation.
It's important to choose a language that you actually want to learn. Choosing a language that you enjoy learning will be half the struggle.
Learning a language can be a lot of fun, and the more languages you learn the easier it becomes to pick up new ones.
Whichever of the methods of learning a new language you choose, whether you are learning on your own, in a classroom or taking one of the online courses, there are lots of great tips for learning a foreign language.
Our Final Thoughts
From landing that dream job to improving your negotiation skills, heading off to explore the world to better understanding cultures around the globe learning a new language will help you out in so many areas of your life.
So with all these benefits, the simple answer to the question of why should you learn a new language is quite simple: you'll thank yourself for it later.
Resources for further reading
Porch from the United States have an extended article that backs up some of what we said here, and add a few of their own ideas as well on how you can learn languages from home.