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I know a lot of people that “always wanted” and “have really been meaning” to learn a second language. Does that sound like you? Maybe you’re afraid of making a fool of yourself, maybe you feel like you don’t have the time, or maybe you’ve put it off because you heard it’s much harder to learn another language as an adult.
I’m here to tell you that it’s worth all of the hours of memorization, all of the botched conversations and embarrassing mistakes, and that it is possible to learn a second language as an adult. If you need more convincing, here are 6 very good reasons that you should stop putting it off and start learning a second language today.
1. Exercise your brain.
Just like the rest of your body, your brain thrives on exercise. Language learning is one of the very best ways to give your brain a serious workout. And just as jogging every day keeps your heart and lungs healthy and less likely to fail you later on, learning a new language, especially in adulthood, has been shown to decrease your chances of cognitive decline in old age.
2. Experience travel in a new way.
When you travel to another country, it’s still an awesome experience even if you don’t speak the language. You get to see the sights, try new foods, and probably meet new people. But if you speak the local language, even just a little, your whole travel experience changes. You’ll be able to ask where the best place is to eat (off the tourist-beaten path), to haggle a better price, chat with locals, and even make local friends. It’s a much more enjoyable experience to travel internationally when you speak another language.
3. Open your world.
It’s kind of crazy to think about it, but the language you speak dictates a lot of aspects of your life – who you’re friends with, what kind of job you have, which websites you visit and books you read. When you learn another language, suddenly those boundaries don’t exist anymore. There is suddenly a whole new world of people you can talk to and become friends with, that you wouldn’t have been able to befriend if you didn’t learn their language. There’s a whole world of literature in your new language just waiting for you to explore it. Learning a second language opens new doors that you probably didn’t even realize were closed before.
4. More job opportunities.
In the globalizing economy, multilingualism is more of a professional asset than ever. Many companies operate in several different countries at once and require employees that can travel internationally and speak with their clients. While it’s true that much of the world is learning English, being able to speak your client’s language is a huge asset – it shows dedication and respect for their culture. Companies are looking for people who speak more than one language, so if you learn a second language then you’re that much more employable!
5. Better decision making skills.
Studies have shown that people who speak more than one language are more able to use logic and make careful decisions. Multilingual people are also better at noticing details in their surroundings and ignoring inessential details while focusing on what’s important. Basically, speaking more than one language keeps you sharp!
6. Open your mind & experience a new culture.
Languages don’t exist in a void. Language and culture are inseparable, so when you learn a new language you will necessarily learn about a new culture as well. Learning how another culture sees the world will open up your mind to different viewpoints, lifestyles, and ways of seeing the world. In the end, your life will be much richer for learning a second (or a third or fourth!) language.