Traditionally, New Year is a time for making resolutions or setting goals for the months ahead, and one of the most common aims is to learn a language. However, actually following through with that plan requires serious motivation. To help you in that regard, here are 10 reasons to make learning a new language your resolution this year.
1. It Can Improve Your Employment Prospects
One of the most obvious advantages to learning a second language is the positive impact it can have on your employability. Modern businesses exist in a global market and companies are constantly striving to break into new parts of the world, meaning they often require employees with the appropriate language skills.
As someone with a knowledge of a second language, you are more likely to be given a job and according to The Economist, you are likely to receive at least a two percent bonus on your pay for the remainder of your career. Additionally, a whole new range of translation-based career paths will open up, as will jobs in other countries.
2. It Can Enhance Your Travel Experiences
In today’s world, it is perfectly possible to travel extensively and never need to learn a second language. Yet, the reality is that taking the time to do so can significantly enhance your experience – even if you only manage to learn some basic words and phrases before you travel.
Knowing a language can help you to truly immerse yourself in another country’s culture and makes it easier to understand their customs. It can also allow you to converse with native people, rather than just people who speak your language, and this can help you to pick up local knowledge and even make new friends.
3. It Can Increase Your Brain Power
In terms of pure personal development, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that learning a second language can increase your overall brain power. For instance, psychologists at York University in Toronto, Canada found that those who can speak a second language perform better on average in Maths an English tests.
A 2012 Northwestern University study found that becoming proficient in a second language can improve both your memory and your attention span. Meanwhile, further research has suggested that bilingual people also exhibit greater decision-making skills and are more open-minded than those who only know a single language.
4. It Can Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
As well as improving overall brain function, research has linked the learning of a new language with a reduced risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Indeed, studies at Edinburgh University found that bilingual people generally benefited from a later onset of Alzheimer’s and two different forms of dementia.
Researchers claim this advantage extended to those who were illiterate, ruling out differences in formal education as a major factor. Experts believe that switching between two languages – complete with their different grammatical structures and rules – effectively serves as a natural ‘brain training’ exercise.
5. It Can Strengthen Your Mother Tongue
Although this may seem like a confusing suggestion, learning a second language can actually improve your knowledge and understanding of your first language. This perhaps goes some way towards explaining why some of the greatest writers in history have been proficient in more than one language.
Our native language is learned during our early years, largely through mimicking, and while we pick up more complicated ideas as we develop, we have no real frame of reference. Learning a second language can urge you to think about and understand structures and tenses, and help you to form more precise or creative sentences.
6. It Can Boost Your Confidence
In the early stages of acquiring a second language, you are likely to encounter feelings of self-doubt. After all, you will be learning to make sounds you have never needed to make, and write in ways you have never needed to write. Nevertheless, it can ultimately boost your confidence in the long run.
The process of learning and using a second language forces you to step out of your comfort zone and do things you are not used to doing. This can help to ease your self-consciousness, lower your inhibitions and make you less afraid to make mistakes. Moreover, the positive feedback when you get things right can also help your self-esteem.
7. It Can Provide You With New Films and Music
When it comes to art forms like film and music, improving your language skills can vastly increase the amount of content available to you. Many people are able to appreciate music from other countries without learning the language, but it can be enjoyed on a much deeper level once lyrics and meaning are understood.
Similarly, foreign films can often be watched with subtitles, making them accessible without a knowledge of the language. Yet, much of the nuance can be lost in translation, and some of the dialogue may not have the same impact when it is read off a screen, rather than being heard.
8. It Can Help You to Help Others
Gaining a knowledge of another language won’t necessarily just help you, it may also be helpful to the people you encounter. For example, if you work in a company that engages in foreign trade and you need to speak to somebody abroad, it may be helpful to them to speak in their language.
Similarly, if you are out and about in your home town or city, you may bump into tourists who are unable to speak your language. Despite this, if you are able to speak theirs, you may still be able to help them to enjoy their visit. Not to mention, once you can speak a new language, you can help others to learn it too!
9. It Has Never Been Easier
Many people are put off the idea of learning a new language because they believe it is too difficult, or because they are unable to afford to attend formal classes. However, in reality, the internet age has ensured that picking up a new language is easier than it has ever been.
Resources like Lingoda make learning accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Today, whether you are using a computer or mobile, it is possible to find lessons, track your progress, connect to people around the world and have conversations. In fact, you may well find that learning a new language is more simple than you ever imagined.
10. It Will Impress Your Friends
Finally, and perhaps most superficially, being able to communicate in a second language is impressive and will make you look good in the eyes of your friends, family and those around you on a daily basis. It can help you to appear more intelligent, more interesting and even more attractive
Successfully learning a whole other language requires a great amount of dedication, determination and discipline. How could anyone fail to be impressed by someone clearly demonstrating that they have those qualities?