This post was most recently updated on January 20th, 2023
[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
As I’ve been learning a second language, I’ve met and made connections with many people from other countries. Even though I’m an introvert, it’s not too difficult for me to strike up a conversation when I first meet someone. After I push myself to speak English among native speakers, I gain a lot of confidence.
I believed that because I can speak English, it gives social benefits as well. I gained insight into other people’s viewpoints and a deeper understanding of their cultures. Learning a second language also helped me to be more accepting of others and, thus far, I’ve managed to see the positive aspects of negative situations. So, listed below are some social advantages that both you and I can gain from learning a second language.
Better ability to see the perspectives of others
Studies have found that multilingual children have certain advantages in social situations. One study showed that bilingual children could understand what an adult was trying to say more accurately than monolingual children. Bilingual children are thought to be better at considering other people’s perspectives since they must decide which language to use in each situation.
Although it is unknown if these abilities continue into adulthood, it is possible that the unique perspective given by speaking a second language and the ability to understand context do in fact have some impact. If this is the case, language learners may have a unique advantage when it comes to having to understand what could otherwise be unclear information.
Since not everyone can speak your native language, learning a second language can help you communicate more effectively when someone who speaks that language cannot understand you. Even if you are not fluent in a second language (like me), you and your conversation partner may be able to piece together what you need to say if you both know enough about it.
For instance, if you’re traveling abroad and need to find the restroom, it’s best to ask in the local language. It is best to bring someone who speaks the local language or hire an interpreter. If you don’t speak the language well, you might not fully grasp the response, but at the very least, the person you are speaking to will be able to understand what you mean well enough to guide you in the right direction.
Deeper personal connections with native speakers
Speaking to someone in their own language is a wonderful way to not only show respect but also establish a deeper connection. Russian-speaking friends who converse with you in English could help you feel closer to them than if you were forced to speak only Russian. And conversing in Russian with them can help to relax them and strengthen your relationship.
Increased understanding of cultural differences
Language learners frequently have greater cultural awareness than monolinguals since accepting cultural differences is typically encouraged in language studies. You might find a use for this throughout your life; it is priceless. For example, if you’ve studied French, there’s a good chance you know a lot more about French communication than you would otherwise. I felt that when I learned Japanese in high school.
So, whether you’re speaking with someone in or from Spain, being aware of this knowledge can help you act respectfully and understand the other person’s meaning.
Improved language abilities with your first language
Learning a new language can help you understand your native language better. Since most people pick up their first language by natural observation, they could be not familiar with the underlying principle and logic involved. They merely have experience, therefore they are just aware of how the language functions.
But you learn the rules when you study a second language. Grammar rules can help you feel more confident and communicate more clearly in your native language. And even if these techniques are applied inconsistently or sloppily in actual (every day) conversation, it still shows that you are aware of the workings of your language.
There is no question that learning a new language affects you. You’re probably going to notice that your confidence and self-awareness grow as you study the language and get better at it. While some of this might result from picking up a useful new skill that you enjoy using, language learning also primarily relies on social contact, so just getting started can help you gain confidence.
You will practice having conversations in your target language in many language classes. Since you’ll usually wind up talking about yourself and your life, this can not only boost your social confidence but also help you become more conscious of who you are.