Does your school offer Chinese or Italian? French or Japanese? Indonesian or Spanish? These are often perceived by students as the most difficult subjects to choose, and therefore are avoided. Others might think that these are subjects which will not be applicable to their lives. However, there are so many benefits reaped from learning a foreign language. Additionally, during school is probably the best time to begin learning, as you will have years in which you can build upon your knowledge gradually. Let’s look into just a few of the reasons that you should pick up that language subject.
Improved memory: learning languages involves a large amount of memory work, often put to use while trying to learn new vocabulary or grammar rules. If you look at memory like a muscle, the consistent mental exercise involved in learning a language can only help you develop and strengthen your memory in other areas of your life. Communicating in different languages is about understanding patterns, much of the time, and this, too will help you develop better problem-solving and critical thinking skills. In fact, it has been shown in some studies that learning languages other than English generally improves your abilities across other subjects, too.
Strengthened self-confidence: language learning always involves trying and failing; in fact, this is the only way to improve. Learning to fail and still persist, drawing upon deep self-confidence, is a great life skill which is developed strongly through language learning.
Better cultural awareness: lose your perception of English as the only language and learn about cultural differences, which will combine to help you develop sensitivity and greater awareness. In an ever more globalised world, these are skills which will help you consistently in the workforce and throughout your lifetime. This will also shed light on your own culture, as you begin to consider it in a global context.
Improved understanding of English: this might seem counterintuitive. However, learning about grammar and parts of language in other languages will actually help you to better understand English in a variety of areas including grammar, vocabulary, conjugation and sentence structure. This might allow you to use your first language more creatively!
Have more rewarding experiences while travelling: imagine what you can do in a foreign country if you could speak the language! A whole new world will open up to you in countries around the world if you are able to communicate with the locals, allowing experiences beyond crowded tourist attractions. Even if you’re unable to communicate fluently, you will often find that locals will really appreciate any kind of effort you make.
Give yourself an employment edge: to potential employers, someone who has learnt a foreign language might have an edge over someone who is monolingual. The ability to communicate in other languages will give you opportunities to network that others may not be able to access. If nothing else convinces you, mastery of a foreign language is seen as highly useful and could boost your resume, opening up more opportunities to various career choices in the future!
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