Just as taking weight off permanently requires consistent effort made in short increments, so too does learning a new language. With an upcoming trip to Paris planned, I’ve been wanting to freshen up my French language skills, but with my busy schedule, I wasn’t sure this was a possibility. I don’t have access to college French classes, I don’t have any friends who speak French and well, I don’t have much free time. Needless to say, the trip was the perfect motivator, and I now am working with Rosetta Stone thirty minutes a night. In the quiet of my own office, and short lessons to follow, I can quickly begin where I left off and not waste time setting up. It’s a wonderful program and one that can become a travel companion as well.
Maybe French isn’t the language you have had an inkling for. What about Chinese, German or Italian? As adults who are no longer in school or students who have already declared their major and learning a new language is not a requirement, it may seem unnecessary or frivolous to take the time to learn a new language. However, consider the below benefits of choosing to add a new language to your talents:
1. Improve your primary language.
While you are learning how a new language functions, learning the grammatical do’s and don’t, and which pronouns and verb conjugations to use, you are comparing it to the language you already know in order to understand how to retain the new knowledge and better comprehend all of the new information that is being presented to you. It is almost impossible not to walk away with a better understanding of how to communicate properly in your primary language.
2. Heighten travel experiences.
For my purposes, having had traveled to France many years ago with very little understanding of the language, I wanted to improve my experience on my second trip. I wanted to be more respectful to the culture I was visiting and not have to pull out a book of translations or bother people walking by. I want to be able to drink Paris in with myself as the tour guide.
"We have strong evidence today that studying a foreign language has a ripple effect, helping to improve student performance in other subjects." - Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education under Bill Clinton
Think of learning a new language as the primer that warms your mind up so that it is more pliable in any other subject matter that interests you. By using different parts of your brain to process problems and switch from one language to the next you are exercising muscles that may not have been used as frequently before. So upon their increase of muscle power, other studies have the potential to improve as well.4. Expand your perspective
By choosing to open our minds up, we also expose ourselves to other cultures and different ways of living and thinking. Having an open mind helps in getting along with others, understanding where the other person is coming from and working together with others who come from different cultures. Now you may not change your beliefs, but when you are better able to understand why someone might believe what they do, you are better able to communicate with them and find common ground.
5. Increase employment opportunities
We are now all operating in a global economy. What occurred in Japan in 2011 not only adversely affected Japan, it also affected every other country it did business with. By improving your language skills you are opening doors, expanding options and getting a leg up on the competition. The better you are able to communicate with more people, the more likely you will be given an opportunity to work with a wider array of people.
6. Build confidence in yourself
Initially learning a new language can seem impossible. What do all those weird figures mean? Why do half of the letters in French never get pronounced? This is a very typical and understandable fear; and yet it is due to how difficult it seems that upon finally acquiring the language you realize how capable you are whenever you set your mind to do something.