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The UnCollege Blog

Why You Should Learn a New Language

Why is is that so many people say they want to learn a new language, but never actually follow through? It’s a process that people abandon at an alarming rate, especially Americans who have little need to speak another language outside of a yearly 2-week vacation from the daily grind. But having an understanding of another language, even if you are not fluent, can help you become a better overall communicator and even make more money professionally.

If those reasons aren’t enough to get you to head to the bookstore and buy a new foreign dictionary, here are of a few more reasons you need to get serious about learning a new language.

Increased Confidence

When you’re learning a language, it tests your patience and grit. You learn to fail spectacularly. You embarrass yourself and learn to laugh it all off.In this sense, practicing a new language is similar to participating in an improv comedy group – you do whatever you can to communicate your point in the best way possible. As a result of these experiences, you escape your comfort zone, learn quickly and gain confidence.

Improved Decision-Making Skills

Advanced foreign language skills help people make better decisions. When operating in a second language, less of our emotions are involved in the conversation because our brain is working extra. This keeps us from making decisions out of emotional excitement.

Learning a Second Language Alters Your Grey Matter

Learning a language changes and builds your brain to make it stronger. This seems like common sense, but it is much deeper than that.The structure of your brain is physically changing, adapting, and becoming smarter while learning a new language.

Improves Your Job Prospects

There are many jobs in which foreign language fluency is a requirement. Examples of this are international commerce, government positions, journalism, telecommunications and many hospitality positions. Not only would these job options be open to you, but you will be set apart from the crowd in competition for other positions by your bilingualism. There are many benefits to knowing a second language in a business setting, including higher pay.

Stave off Dementia

At this point in your life, you’re probably not too worried about dementia, but it’s worth mentioning. While health checkups and saving for retirement prepare you for old age in a proactive way, you can prevent your mental decay now in a proactive way that also involves a lot of other benefits. Studies show that bilingual people have a slower onset of dementia.

Be a Better Community Member

In many places in the USA - especially big cities - there are whole families that speak languages other than English. These families make up communities within a larger community. For example, 24% of households in San Jose speak Spanish. That said, someone living in San Jose who doesn’t speak Spanish would be put at a disadvantage when trying to communicate with people in their community. And it’s not just limited to Spanish; in San Francisco, 11% of the population speaks Mandarin. In order to contribute to your local community, you have to be able to communicate with them members of that community.

So, what are you waiting for? In order to reap the rewards of speaking a second language, you have to put your efforts into learning it. The only way to get there is through habitual practice. There are plenty of hacks to language learning, and some of them work, but in the end it’s up to you to put in the effort.

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