You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.
– Geoffrey Willans
Did you learn a language at school? I did! I think most people in their lifetime may have had a shot at French, German or Spanish as part of their school curriculum. Maybe you studied a language to GCSE or A-Level standard, or perhaps you even went on to university to study in greater depth?
I studied languages at school. However, I’ve recently re-started my language journey by enrolling in a Mandarin course! My lessons have been brilliant so far, and it feels empowering to know I can communicate in a language that isn’t English.
In the UK, we’re renowned for being pretty lazy when it comes to foreign languages. And many people, whose first language isn’t English, are sometimes better at English than we are ourselves! So if others can do it, why can’t we?!
Learning a new language has been shown to be one of the best things you can ever do. In fact, I have been amazed, just in the research, I’ve done for this post, as to how many benefits there really are.
Firstly, investigations have shown that your brain will actually increase in size after studying a language for just three months. Big brains sound good to me! And apparently, it’s been reported that those who learn a foreign language will live on average 4.5 years longer than those who don’t. Wow!
If you have learned a language in the past, you may recall how hard the listening aspect is. It’s so tricky to pick up the little sounds and syllables that are spoken quickly or to detect this intonation or that colloquialism. To understand a foreign language requires truly intent listening. So, you may not be surprised to know that learning a language can actually improve overall listening skills and your attention span, both for the foreign language and your mother tongue! Everyone loves a good listener!
Plus, did you know that when your brain is trained to learn a language, it suddenly becomes more receptive to learning other things too – like business expertise, learning an instrument or picking up a new skill? You may be astonished to realise the ease in which you will become familiar with other new skills after successfully learning a second language.
And patience. Let’s not forget that virtue. Learning a language requires a lot of it! But it’s been proven that the patience required to learn a language transfers to other areas of your life, meaning you’ll be an all-round more patient person generally! Oooh did I mention, learning a language is meant to enhance creativity too? Result!
When it comes to your career, potential employers are often very keen to recruit candidates who speak more than one language. If you speak an additional language, it can truly enhance your appeal in the profession you are currently in or in one you may intend to follow in the future. You will also find you are usually rewarded with a more attractive salary as a consequence too! Yet another tick!
Finally, don’t underestimate the fact that visiting the country of the language you have learnt or be learning will be so much more enjoyable when you can speak the local lingo. You will be able to embrace the culture more and may be made to feel even more welcome by the locals for speaking, or at least trying to communicate, in their native language.
I could go on and on about all the other benefits – maybe I should do a Part 2?! But in the meantime, how glad am I that I’m learning Mandarin?! Things have never looked so good!