12 (not so obvious) benefits of learning another language

Thinking about starting to learn another language? Or maybe you want to brush up on your existing language skills?

If you make the decision and go for it, let me tell you: You’re in for a fantastic ride!

You’ll expand your horizons and contribute to your personal development in ways you couldn’t even imagine.

What am I talking about?

Studying a language is a LOT more than just learning words and phrases:

1. You learn about yourself an awful lot.

You’ll see how you react when you make mistakes, how you behave when you’re in the target country and in a real life situation. You expose your strengths and weaknesses which you’ll get immediate feedback on.

If the person you’re talking to doesn’t get your point, how does that make you feel? Discouraged? Do you start to doubt your skills? Or do you want to prove that you can and feel motivated to move on?

That takes us to point 2:

2. You leave your comfort zone every single class.

It’s not easy to get talking when chances are great that whatever words and phrases are going to leave your mouth, there will be some mistakes.

Also, if you have chance to practice in the target country, that’s when you’ll experience what leaving your comfort zone really is like. But the good news is in point 3:

3. You get used to leaving your comfort zone, and best of all: enjoy it!

When you do something over and over again, it becomes a habit. Experts believe that it takes 21 days to either form or break a habit.

Being comfy with leaving your comfort zone can become second nature too. But that takes courage, the willingness to develop, persistence and a great amount of time and practice. A great teacher/coach/mentor can and should support you in forming good habits.

Behaviour and habit

To read more on forming good habits, check this article from the great Brian Tracy.

4. It’s a real confidence boost.

Once you manage to overcome the initial uncomfortable feeling and possible hesitancy to speak, you’ll see that learning and interacting in a foreign language is actually increasing your confidence.

Just think about this: You’ve taken time, effort, money to learn a language. I think that should be applauded and you must feel proud about yourself, no matter what level you’ve achieved. Next step is to really make use of the time wisely, but more on that in another post.

5. You understand cultural differences better.

You gain insight into the minds of foreigners. And that’s super interesting on one hand, and really important on the other hand.

Let’s just take the 2 languages I’m lucky to have grown up with as examples:

Germans are “accused” for being too direct sometimes. If you have a look at just a super basic sentence structure, you’ll see why that is:

“Wo wohnst du?” translates directly as “Where live you?”. Doesn’t it sound very straight to the point?! And it’s just a super simple question.

If you study German, you’ll notice the difference between formal and informal chats: They have 3 different words for then English you: “du” and “Sie” and “ihr”. How do you know which ones to use in order to not offend the other party?

And I guess, Germans are not as good at small talk as the British. They might question how genuine you are if you keep going on and on about totally unimportant things :)

Want to read more German-English funny stories? Check this link.

The case is similar with Hungarian. They have 6 different words for the word “you”: “te”, “ti”, “Ön”, “Önök”, “Maga”, “Maguk” and they can express very fine shades of meaning in the different forms of greetings (eg. “Csókolom.” vs “Jó napot kívánok.” vs “Üdvözlöm.”)

Hungarians are extremely hospitable people. The guest always comes first. Your host will make sure that you are perfectly comfortable and this often means filling guests and visitors with food and drink. It’s vital that you know how to refuse politely.

If you want some funny stories about the Hungarian culture from the eye of an American, here we go.

6. You become more tolerant.

Once you understand cultural differences better, you become more understanding and accepting. That’s tolerance.

3

7. You learn and practice empathy.

Empathy requires you to step outside your own emotions and view things entirely from the perspective of the other person. That’s something you practice without even noticing when learning and speaking a foreign language if you want to get your point across.

8. You may discover a whole new vision of life.

This goes back to point 6. And ultimately, learning something new brings new experiences, new people, new understandings and possibly a whole new vision to your journey. You’ll only find out if you embark on it.

9. You experience creativity from a new perspective.

Constructing sentences, whether in speaking or writing, is a form of self-expression, and therefore, you are using your creative mind. When you face challenges such as no one word equivalent for the English “busy”, you engage in a form of divergent thinking that drives creativity.

More on this in this Huffington Post article.

10. You’ll regularly practise active listening.

By definition, active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.

This is what you do every single time you speak to someone and want to make sure you understood what the other person said.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
― Ernest Hemingway

11. It boosts your brain power.

Scientists seem to have proven that people who speak more than one language fluently are cognitively more creative and have better memories than monolinguals. Canadian studies suggest that Alzheimer’s disease and the onset of dementia are diagnosed later for bilinguals than for monolinguals, meaning that knowing a second language can help us to stay cognitively healthy well into our later years.

Another great read is under this link.

12. Your overall productivity increases.

Rosetta stones surveys suggest that learning a new language increases performance at work and make people more productive. This is my experience too, and many students of mine reported this as a nice side effect. It’s like going to the gym to invigorate your body, but this time, you invigorate your mind.

So here they are in one go, my list of 12 benefits of learning a foreign language:

  1. You learn about yourself an awful lot.
  2. You leave your comfort zone every single class, yet …
  3. … you get used to it and best of all: enjoy it!
  4. It’s a real confidence boost.
  5. You understand cultural differences better.
  6. You learn about tolerance,
  7. empathy,
  8. and might even discover a whole different vision of life.
  9. You experience creativity from a new perspective,
  10. and will have to practice active Listening.
  11. All of this, believe it or not, boosts brain power, and even though you may feel tired and exhausted after each class,
  12. your overall productivity increases.

 

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Please share your stories and insights as to how studying a second language helped you in any other areas of your professional or personal life.

Do you have any funny stories on cultural differences? I bet you do, so c’mon let’s hear it in the comments below.

Thank you soo much for reading, and I hope to catch you next time.

With love,

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