The benefits of learning a new language

Written by Adriana Watson, Editorial Editor

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As inductions to honors societies for foreign languages are coming up at LTHS, I find it suitable to talk a bit about the benefits of learning a foreign language. The majority of high school students choose to simply take their two required years of a foreign language and move on. Continuing a language, even if it’s just for the remainder of your high school career, can be wildly helpful later in life.

The first reason is fairly obvious. Nelson Mandela explained it best when he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Learning languages opens up an entirely new world to you. Although most countries don’t require English in their curriculum, speaking in one’s native language is beneficial to both sides of the conversation.

The mental benefits to learning a new language are actually quite impressive. Even if learned later in life, language can help people keep their minds in peak condition. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that bilingual people operate differently from those who only speak one language. These cognitive differences benefit the bilingual party in a multitude of ways. For starters, language helps you multitask better. Bilingual people are used to switching in between two entirely different systems of speech. This is relayed in everyday life by enabling bilingual speakers to switch to two different tasks quickly.

Another benefit, which I have certainly experienced myself, is how much foreign languages help you understand English better. Although English is our native language, other languages can help you understand many things such as grammar. Typically, when learning a new language, you become even more aware of the grammar rules than many native speakers. This potentially makes us think about the English language, and how it may compare.

Finally, speaking more than just one language increases your intelligence. New languages also open you up to a new culture as well. You may perceive the world differently and are able to reflect similar values in your own life.

Learning a new language truly challenges your brain, and as a result, you not only gain a self of accomplishment, but also knowledge. Learning a new language can be difficult and even exhausting, but if you keep at it the benefits will stay with you for a lifetime.

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