Can I see a show of hands of those of you who know a second language? Okay, and now can I see a show of hands of those who wish they knew a second language? I am here to explain to you why it is important and so beneficial for everyone to know a second language. There are more benefits to knowing a second language than it just seems “cool.” The main advantages of knowing a second language are your professional growth, improvement of mental health, and development of cognitive abilities.
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The first argument in favor of learning a second language is the fact that the development of cognitive abilities in the learning process helps maintain mental health. Multiple studies have shown that bilingual people are less likely to have dementia in senior age, or its development occurs 4-5 years later than in monolingual people (Roberts & Kreuz, 2019). Many people attribute this to the fact that the cognitive abilities of bilingual people are more developed, especially if they use several languages and practice them. However, no evidence explains the physiological processes associated with this fact. Nevertheless, even without understanding which hormones and brain areas are involved in this process, learning a new language is worth the effort to avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Moreover, the cognitive development of a person who speaks several languages is much higher overall. Developed language skills are associated with the growth of the hypothalamus and areas of the cerebral cortex, which are responsible for memory and thoughts (Charman, 2016). In other words, a person stimulates areas of the brain and improves his memory and sharpness of thinking by learning a new language. Besides, we usually use reading, listening, and remembering to learn the words and structures, which enhances our attentiveness and concentration.
Scientists also note that knowing another language helps people expand their horizons of perception since different languages have terms that do not exist in others. For example, in Japanese, there are more words for shades of blue than in English, while Namibian Himba people divide all colors into only five groups (Charman, 2016). Thus, knowing several languages helps people better understand and perceive the world around them.
Another advantage of learning a second language will become evident to you if you go to any site for a job search. In many vacancies, you can see that a second language is necessary or desirable as this expands the possibilities of collecting information and communicating. This skill is needed for nurses, social workers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and even IT professionals to maintain communication in a globalized world. In addition, this ability will provide you with work in any of these areas as a translator.
Knowing of few languages also makes you a better employee, since thinking in bilingual thinking makes increases analytical and negotiating abilities, as you analyze the words more carefully (Penarredonda, 2018). For example, you can always pretend that you are choosing words, or you didn’t understand the question correctly if you said something wrong, and your opponent does not take these words seriously. Thus, the benefits of knowing a second language are both the obvious ability to communicate and gather information, as well as the latent possibilities of the brain.
In conclusion, learning a second language has many advantages that are inseparable. Each of you can choose your own reason to attend classes in Spanish, French, or Chinese to motivate yourself. It can be a desire to get the best job, to be open to the world, or avoid mental diseases. However, not a single person who cares about his or her future will be able to declare that such a reason does not exist.
Charman, A. (2016). How learning languages affects our brain. European Commission. Web.
Penarredonda, J. L. (2018). The huge benefits of working in your second language. BBC. Web.
Roberts, R., & Kreuz, R. (2019). Can learning a foreign language prevent dementia? The Mit Press Reader. Web.