Not nearly enough Westerners today know a language other than English. Many just don’t see it as necessary or useful, which is a huge shame. In many countries it’s not unusual to finish high school knowing three languages relatively well. We’re falling behind by not placing a bigger emphasis on languages. I believe there are many reasons to do so, but today I’ve put together the five main reasons why you should learn a new language:
It makes you smarter
Learning languages, like musical instruments, enhances your brain. It keeps you intellectually stimulated and is thought to improve your memory. Scientists believe it can even help to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and related diseases.
It makes you accessible to more people
If you could speak Mandarin, imagine how many more people you could converse with. It’s the same with Spanish – you could then speak to the people of around twenty different countries. Yes, many do speak English, but not as many as you think.
It makes you stand out
You’ll stand out in job interviews or in your current job. Asian languages are especially useful in business now and will be more so in the future. My primary school was onto something by teaching us Mandarin for a few years. Or you can surprise your friends by busting out your French when you meet someone from France on a night out.
It will improve your English
This one may sound odd, but it’s so true. English borrows from other languages, which becomes clearer as you learn more. Many schools today aren’t teaching grammar like they used to but learning a new language will make you think about the basics of your mother tongue. This can increase your vocabulary as well as your grammar – there have been times when I’ve learnt a word in another language that has lead me to discovering a new English word.
It can make travel easier
Even without fluency, having some knowledge in other languages will be an asset while travelling. You will seem more approachable and friendly to locals. By trying to speak to people in their own language instead of beginning in English, you will gain respect and maybe an insider tip or two.
I’m not saying learning a new language is easy, but it so very worth the effort. Once you’ve been learning a new language it can be surprising to realise how much you were missing!