Why you should learn another language
By Lauren Paulsen, Senior Columnist
“I don’t have enough time.” “It’s too hard.” “English is spoken everywhere, I don’t need to learn another language.” Many people come up with excuses as to why they won’t learn another language. You know what? There are no good excuses not to, but there are hundreds of reasons why you should.
Did you know that four out of five people in the world don’t speak English? If you remain monolingual, you are cutting yourself off from most of the world’s population. This prevents you from making new friends, new contacts, or even finding your soul mate. Learning another language opens a new world for you. Not only that, but you can truly immerse yourself in another culture, gaining a deeper understanding of people, and becoming more open-minded as you learn more about them. Learning about a culture without knowing their language is like passively watching a movie, instead of actually engaging in life.
Another major benefit from learning languages is the boost in brainpower it gives you. Countless studies have shown that when you learn another language your memory improves, you gain a longer attention span, and you can even reduce the risk of dementia later in life. Learning a language actually changes the grey matter in your brain (this is the area which processes information) in the same way that lifting weights builds muscles. Doing this actually makes it easier for a person to learn new skills, and not just language based ones. Something else that students will find really helpful is that it has been proven that students who are studying another language actually score better on standardized tests, especially in reading, vocabulary, and even math (yes, learning another language actually helps you learn math).
Another language can even help you with decision making. It has been proven that when a person thinks about decisions in a foreign language, they are less emotionally biased and choose the more logical outcome. That can really help when it comes to things like finances.
Outside of the brain, learning another language opens up a lot of doors in the workplace. You increase your value to potential employers when you know another language. If there is a choice between two potential candidates for a job, even if they have almost identical résumés, the person who knows more languages is the more likely to be hired.
Another worldly benefit is that knowing another language can greatly enhance your travelling experiences. Not only do you meet more people, but when you go to another country and speak to the natives there in their language it shows them respect and they will really appreciate the effort you’ve made. This also helps boost your confidence, especially since strangers and friends will be impressed. Plus, it helps you to avoid falling into “tourist traps.” Scammers are less likely to go after you if you seem more like you belong.
Being multilingual also helps you when you watch foreign films or read foreign novels. So many times nuances are lost in translation, and badly done subtitles or dubs can really alter the original meaning. Not only that, but some languages actually have words for things that cannot be translated back into the English language. Did you know that the German language actually has a word for a person’s face that makes you so mad that you want to punch it? The word is “backpfeifengesicht.”
Staying monolingual really denies you a more enriched life. Become a more interesting person. Challenge yourself. Stop making excuses, and go learn another language. You’ll only benefit.