One of the many advantages of learning another language is the ability to understand other cultures. For example, you get more out of movies if you speak the language. Little by little, you start to rely less on subtitles and more on your ability to understand the nuances of what is said. But learning a new language has many other benefits, some which you would never have imagined.
Let’s have a look at the cognitive, mental health, and work benefits of learning a new language.
“A different language is a different vision of life.” Federico Fellini
Cognitive Benefits of Learning Another Language
Learning a new language is like going to the gym. Just like when you use fitness equipment, you flex cognitive “muscles” you did not know you had. For example, learning new vocabulary may seem simple but it helps improve your memory functions.
Going back and forth between languages makes you more alert and enhances your problem-solving skills as well as your ability to multitask. In fact, it makes you more easily adaptable to new circumstances and improves your cognitive flexibility and creative thinking.
Impact on Mental Health
According to The British Academy, one of the advantages of learning another language is that it improves brain flexibility. It does so by engaging parts of the brain that intersect with those affected by the aging process, which result in enhance cognitive reserve and resilience.
Additionally, the ability to switch between languages and the resulting functional connections makes the bilingual brain more resilient to Alzheimer’s and dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, bilingual people can stave off symptoms by five years compared to monolingual patients.
In addition, learning a new language alleviates symptoms of depression. As you learn about the culture as well as the language, it broadens your horizons and makes you feel you belong. As a result, a new language makes you curious about the world, which, in turn, stimulates your creativity.
The Benefits of Learning a New Language at Work
First, the ability to communicate seamlessly with coworkers and clients from other countries is a big advantage. Not only will you expand your network, but your understanding of other cultures will help you avoid making costly business decisions and mistakes. Therefore, cross-cultural communication is a must when dealing with overseas clients, suppliers, and even colleagues.
There is a growing demand for bilingual talent in the US job market. Therefore, fluency in another language is a big asset in the global marketplace. It can lead to more job opportunities and a higher salary.
Believe it or not, speaking foreign languages can make you a better leader. Having cultural awareness helps you listen better and empathize with others. Overcoming obstacles during the learning process and stepping out of your comfort zone help you become a better problem-solver and a more effective leader.
Effective leaders know that one of the ways to retain talent is to provide learning opportunities, as employees value learning on the job and personal development. Besides, the ability to speak a foreign language ranks among the top ten most critical behavioral skills employers look for.