[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
There are a ton of benefits of being bilingual. This skill at any point in life offers huge benefits to us, practically, socially, and psychologically.
Recently I met with my close friend and we talked about the benefits of being bilingual. Both of us studied English Literature – we learned English as a Second Language (ESL) at the same college.
For us, knowing more than one language can give us a big boost professionally, and in today’s economy, that’s something everyone can use. Aside from improving our career prospects, speaking another language is fun and can add great value to our personal life.
One of the best reasons to become bilingual is the enormous health benefits it can have, particularly for the brain. A study shows that bilingualism can improve cognition and delay dementia in older adults, particularly related to general intelligence and reading abilities.
Studies of people with Alzheimer’s have confirmed that speaking a second language slows the onset of age-related brain disease. The extra work of learning a second language makes your brain stronger, for longer. And this cognitive protection works at any age, meaning that even if you don’t speak a second language, you can start language classes tomorrow and still reap the benefits!
Not only good for your brain, read on to discover seven benefits of being bilingual below!
Travelling will be easier
If your second language is one of the most used languages – especially English – then no matter where you go in the world, it is likely that you’ll be able to communicate. It can be more rewarding when you speak the language of the country you’re visiting. You won’t be limited to staying in foreign hotels, eating at restaurants where the staff speaks English or traveling with a tour group. This will make traveling a lot easier for you!
If you travel alone, you can find your own way and experience the country the way a local would. You might enjoy cheaper access to many places because you don’t have to pay for a foreign-language guide. Not only that, you will certainly have more opportunities to meet people, engage in conversation and learn about the culture.
When you can communicate through a common language with the people around you, you’ll have a much more authentic experience than someone who is unable to speak to the local people.
In case, you need a professional translator or interpreter during your travel or business trip, Professional Translation Services and Human Interpreting like DayTranslations have over 20,000 linguists that know exactly how to approach your target culture. So, no matter the industry your work in or the language you require, you’ll be trusting in experts to handle your translations!
Feel more empathetic
Many tests have shown bilingual people are more empathetic because their brain blocks out their second language and focuses on the one needed to communicate with the person in front of them.
Another study showed evidence that although people are distracted by their own beliefs when trying to comprehend the beliefs of others, bilinguals were less susceptible to this type of cognitive bias and therefore better able to understand the perspectives of others.
Better at multi-tasking
People who speak more than one language are very skilled at switching between the languages they speak. In order to do this, their brains remain highly in tune with their physical environments, constantly monitoring for which language needs to be used.
According to a study from Penn State University, researchers trace the source of these enhanced multi-tasking skills to the way bilinguals mentally negotiate between the languages, a skill called mental juggling.
Highly valued on the job market
Being bilingual makes your resume stand out even more to certain career fields, such as tourism, national security, education, international non-profit management, and even jobs in the military.
Many national and multinational companies have international offices – sell their products abroad and have facilities in other countries. These companies want to hire employees who can speak other languages because multilingual consumers represent a significant opportunity for future business. And being bilingual makes you a more versatile and highly valued employee.
So once you’ve got a second language under your belt, you might be fighting off job offers!
Opens up social & cultural opportunities
Learning from my experience, speaking another language lets you interact with different people and understand another culture. This means you might have more opportunities to make friends and better understand your favorite foreign music, film, and literature.
The benefits of being bilingual not only allow you to have basic but also superficial conversations with the people you meet. You will be able to truly connect with people by having an elaborate conversation with them in the local language. Nice isn’t it?
Adapt easily to different situations
As a bilingual person, you’ll be used to switching between different languages depending on context. Maybe you speak one language at work and another at home, or one language with your friends. Oh, now I wish I could learn Japanese!
This linguistic flexibility helps your brain to adapt easily to change, meaning that new or unfamiliar situations – even ones that have nothing to do with language – don’t feel as challenging as they otherwise might.
I used to feel less confident when speaking English. So every time I will meet a foreigner, I will tell them that my English will not sound good or be difficult to understand. But the worries are in vain because they always say that my English is easy to understand to the conversation level. Many of them say that there are still many people who have difficulty with Grammar (and my Grammar is excellent). I became more confident afterward and realized I had potential – I just underestimated myself too much.
Gives you a new perspective on the world
Research has found that bilinguals literally see the world differently. Speaking a second language gives you access to cultures, experiences, and traditions that you wouldn’t have without speaking that language. Bilingualism definitely broadens your horizons and gives you a new perspective on the world.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher who himself spoke three languages, once said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
Even if you don’t travel abroad, becoming bilingual can help you see the world in a different way and understand yourself better.
From my experience, unlike western countries where the population is more open-minded, there are still a lot of topics seen as taboo in eastern countries, especially in my country. Most of the people here are still not used to talking about sex (daily) and still consider it a ‘taboo’ topic to talk about. I understand it comes from our culture.
But, when you start learning a second language – for me, English – from childhood, it really gives me a new perspective on other cultures. Here, what people think of as something that unusual (like LGBT), I think of it as a life choice (as long as it makes you happy, it’s your right) and that is not a big deal at all.
Having an open mind helps you see everything from many sides and not only judge something from one culture.
So if you want to understand yourself better, learning another language might be the key! Moreover, learning a foreign language is just fun!
The sooner you learn and the more frequently you use your second language, the greater the benefits will be.
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