Speaking another language isn't just great for getting a better job or understanding what people are speaking about in public. It helps you connect with people you may not know otherwise, developing compassion for others and different perspectives about how to think about common issues. On top of that, it has terrific health benefits.
1. It's great for your job.
Most of my students take lessons with me to help them with their jobs. They're usually mid career and looking to boost their skills. Some want to connect better with their coworkers and clients. Some want to change their job entirely but find they are competing with bilingual job candidates. People who speak another language are able to connect with better with those they work with and those they serve, allowing them to establish a special relationship through shared language. And they tend to earn higher pay on top of it.
2. It helps connect you with new people.
Speaking of which, the connection with others isn't just in the job sector. Speaking another language means you can connect with all types of people in the world who you wouldn't normally know if you don't speak their language. The second time I lived in Peru, I was determined to meet people who only spoke Spanish. I felt like I was missing out only connecting with folks who spoke English, and that was totally true. I started meeting other people with similar interests and started having more diverse interactions with Spanish speakers. I wasn't living as richly relying only on English in a Spanish-speaking country.
3. It exposes new parts of your personality.
Research shows that most people who speak other languages also take on other personality traits depending on which language they speak. Personally, I've found that speaking English means I need to take care of not expressing my emotions too strongly and to be super polite to everyone I encounter. In Spanish, I am feel freer to express myself, and I tend to laugh more at silly jokes and at life in general. I tend to be more introverted in English and more extroverted in Spanish. This happens to almost everyone who speaks another language, different aspects of our personality come out that we never would've expected ourselves to have.
4. It's a route into learning about another culture.
As language is the way a person expresses and communicates within their culture, it's natural that learning another language means learning about another culture. For me, learning Spanish helped me delve deeper into a culture, where I can go from being a tourist to someone completely immersed. I spent my first year in Peru completely lost because I didn't know much Spanish. I came up with ideas, and I hate to admit it, even judgments about what I thought I understood about the places I had visited, because I had to rely on English speakers to translate for me. When I finally learned Spanish well enough to understand things for myself, I quickly picked up slang, which is a huge part of most people's daily lexicon. I started to ask more in-depth questions that perhaps people had a harder time explaining in English but could very well in their native language. I also learned how people said certain things in one country but definitely didn't say in another. All of which has made me a better language teacher and more rounded person.
5. It's a way to thinking about issues from another perspective.
Have you ever wondered why people of another culture act the way they do? Speaking another language helps you understand the why behind it all. For instance, the way people from Latin American countries talk about time is different from how people from the U.S., Germany, and Switzerland talk about time. Spanish speakers see time as fluid, while English speakers see it as linear.
English-speaking Americans talk about spending and wasting time, as well as what time is worth, just as they do about money. German speakers see time as something that must be respected, as it's about planning and organization. And Spanish speakers talk about time as an investment in other people. It is not measured in increments or monetary units but rather in quality of interacting with others. The arrival time is not important, just as the departure time is not important, but rather the quality of time spent with the person is the only thing that truly matters. Listening to people speak about time can help us see concepts of time from another perspective than our own.
When you start considering common concepts from other perspectives, it's easier to apply new perspectives to other common issues and challenges we face in daily and business life.
6. It improves a person’s native language.
People who love studying languages know this firsthand. Speaking other languages helps us understand our own better. It's perfectly natural to compare the languages we speak. When we speak a second, third, fourth, or more, we start to see patterns of what matches and doesn't match our native language. Often my students say the don't remember learning their native language in school and have forgotten the grammatical terms. Sometimes I have to give a quick review of their native language in order to move onto the more challenges grammar of the language they're learning. They come away with a new appreciation for the language they already speak, as well as a better appreciate for the language they're learning to speak. And speaking a second language helps people learn a third and more.
7. It develops more compassion for other people.
Speaking another language helps people become more open-minded about people from other cultures. Research has proven that those who speak more than one language tend to be more compassionate towards their fellow humans. Children who speak a second language, as well as have been exposed to another language, could infer what someone wanted, even without all the information, better than children who only speak and had been exposed to one language. Increasing communication between each other and understanding that we humans share many commonalities leads to feeling more compassionate towards others.
8. It preventing age-related dementia.
There actually are other benefits, but this is the number one reason retirees take language lessons from me. They want to prevent developing dementia as they age. In fact, studies show that dementia shows up in people who speak more than one language five years later than those who only speak one language. I don't know if you've experienced it, but I know I have. My brain starts to hurt when I'm learning a new concept in the language I'm studying. My students tend to get tired after an hour of learning. That's because we're working our brains. Basically, the more we work them out, just like our bodies, the stronger they become and continue to stay strong as we get older. So think of speaking another language as a brain exercise that keep yourself in shape.
All this to say, speaking another language has so many benefits, who wouldn't want to start learning today? And if that's you, and Spanish or English is on your list, I'm your woman! Contact me today for a free assessment and get started reaping the benefits of speaking another language