There are many reasons why you should learn a language. From health benefits to improved memory and brainpower, make 2018 the year you learn a new language.
As we ring in 2018, it’s the perfect time to remind yourself of those language learning goals you forgot about in 2017. Learning a new language isn’t as scary as you might think. Put aside those bleak memories of high school French class, language learning has comes a long way since then.
As you set about creating your 2018 New Year resolutions, take a moment and rediscover why learning a new language is awesome!
Here are the top 11 life-changing reasons why you should learn a foreign language in 2018!
1. Your Travels will be Transformed
Remember that time you got lost in Venice and wanted to ask for directions in Italian but didn’t know how? Or that time you got ripped off in that Moroccan market but didn’t know how to argue your way to a better price? This is when knowing the lingo is really beneficial.
Travelling isn’t just about going to a foreign land, taking selfies in front of a few monuments, eating your body weight in food, then going home. It’s about experiencing the culture and the people who live it.
Start with dropping a few choices words and phrases and you’ll be amazed at the reaction you’ll get from locals. I speak from experience when I say that not only will you be greeted with warm smiles and invitations to afternoon tea (this happened to me in Sicily), it may even open you up to opportunities that you may never have imagined possible.
2. You’ll make wonderful new friends
Perhaps the best part of learning a foreign language is all the new friends you make. Having friends and meeting new people is one of the real pleasures in life. Think how much your life will change if this were doubled, just by learning another language?
Since you bonded with them in their language, you’ll probably find that their friendship will mean more and probably outlast some of your other friendships. Who knows, that friend might even introduce you to the love of your life! You never know where a language will take you.
3. You’ll become more confident
Learning a foreign language is a great way to boost poor self-esteem and help develop more confidence. It can be nerve-wracking working up the courage to speak in a foreign language, but once you do and start to receive positive feedback from native speakers, the easier it becomes to overcome that fear.
The best part is that this confidence echoes into other areas you’ll be more prepared to overcome fears and doubts in other aspects of your life.
4. You’ll be smarter
Studies have shown that speaking a foreign language actually improves the functionality of your brain! That’s right, you become smarter when you constantly challenge it to recognise, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems. This, in turn, improves your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well.
5. Each New Language Becomes Easier
If you’re a monolinguist, the hardest language you’ll ever learn will be your second. Why? Simple. Everything will literally be foreign to you.
You’ll have to learn to use your mouth and tongue differently to pronounce words and vocabulary and sentence structure will probably be reversed. But the best part is, once you get your around how the language works, you can start to apply some of these rules to other languages and notice their commonalities.
For example, learning Romance languages are great for language newbies. If start with French, then jump to Italian or Spanish, you’ll see how similar the grammar and vocabulary, making the learning process easier.
With so many common aspects, picking up your third, fourth, or fifth language with be so much quicker. All you have to do is stick it out.
6. You’ll be More Employable
As the world becomes more and more globalised, companies look to extend their businesses overseas and deal with international clients. Guess what? They need someone with the right skillset AND who can speak the local lingo. So, if the choice was down to your (the closet language whiz that you are) and someone with no second language up their sleeve, who do you think would be hired?
7. It Might Just Transform Your Life
Language has the power to completely change your life and where you live it!
When you’re able to speak another language, it becomes instantly easier of following your dreams and living in a foreign land. There’s nothing more rewarding than living in another language. Your life feels like a holiday for the longest time. Remember, you don’t have to be fluent to move abroad, I moved to Italy when I spoke intermediate Italian.
8. Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia
The most important advantage of learning a language is its ability to ward off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The results of various studies showed that in adults who speak two or more languages, the first signs of the diseases were offset by a few years! While it may not be a cure, it certainly buys you some time.
9. Experience Works of Art in their Original Language
No more reading subtitles or sitting through cringe dubbing. So much meaning is lost when movies, books and TV shows are translated. Sorry, but the emotion is lost when a someone else’s voice is dubbed over the top.
World famous books like The Little Prince, War and Peace, and The Alchemist were meant to be enjoyed in their original language. For me, reading The Little Prince was so much more enjoyable when I read it in its original language, French. The author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, uses the melodic flow of the French language and rhyming to produce some amazing writing that translation jusut can’t replication.
Even with the best translators, you would be surprised how much is lost in translation.
10. You’ll Discover a New Culture
As you make new friends, you’ll begin to understand the world a little bit better. Studying a language opens you up to noticing the finer details of a language.
Since I started learning Arabic, I would never have thought how considerate and polite the language would be. For example, the word for please is min fadlak, which literally translates to, from your grace. If someone asks, “how are you?” a common reply would be “Alhamdulillaah, I’m good”, meaning, thanks to Allah, I’m good.
11. You’ll Have a Better Memory
Think of your brain as a muscle, the more you use it, the better it works.
When you learn a language, you’re essentially exercising the brain. This ‘exercise’ occurs as you memorise rules and vocabulary and this repetitive action actually beings to improve your overall memory.
Studies show that those who speak multiple languages are actually better at remembering lists and sequences. Even bilinguals get similar benefits in being better at remembering shopping lists, names, and directions.
Feeling inspired yet? While we all have different reasons for wanting to learn a new language, hopefully, these bonus benefits will have given you that much-needed boost to start learning your next language in 2018.
Ready to learn your next language? Visit my handy language resource guide.
Plus, if you want to know how the experts learn languages, I asked 11 top polyglots to share their language learning secrets. Find out how they start learning a new language, overcome plateaus, and maintain multiple languages.
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