5 Reasons to Learn a Second Language
Most of us have at one point or another thought about learning a second language on our own time. It’s easier than ever with all of the apps and tools out there, and you think “hey, why not? I took Spanish in high school, I should be able to pick it right back up where I left off!” Then, after a week of struggling to remember how to say hello, you drop it again because it’s just too hard, or you’re too busy, or whatever excuse tickles your fancy.
I understand, and I’ve been there.
My literal job in the Marine Corps was to learn and keep up my language skills, and I STILL struggled with it sometimes. Learning a language is less like learning and more like retraining your whole brain to think in a different way, and the brain does NOT like changes to the status quo. (That’s worth a whole other post, by the way.)
But I think one of the keys to sticking with any new habit is really knowing WHY you want it, and WHY you should do it. So I put together this list of the top 5 reasons everyone should consider learning a second language.
Better job opportunities. Having a second language on your resume can help you stand out to potential employers, and even get you a raise in a job you already have. You never know who you might end up interacting with in any job, or what their first language is. Even if their English is great, being able to speak with them in their first language will earn you major points with them, and probably with your boss too.
It will improve your cognitive skills. There are SO MANY proven ways that learning a second language gives your brain a powerful boost. It can give you improved memory, a longer attention span, better self-control and focus, and even reduce your risk for cognitive decline later in life. I wasn’t kidding when I said learning languages literally retrains your brain.
You can enjoy things in their original language. You can find basically anything translated into English these days, but most things lose a little (or a lot) in the translation. My husband inadvertently chose a Russian movie on Amazon Prime a couple of weeks ago, and even though my Russian is slightly rusty, it was so much more fun knowing what the characters were actually saying, instead of just what the subtitles said.
It can improve your English skills. Unless you were an English major in college, you probably don’t remember much about grammar. What’s a direct object vs. an indirect object? How about the order adjectives are supposed to go in when describing something? Well, you probably won’t spend much time on the adjective thing, but I can almost guarantee you’ll need to figure out what a direct object is while you’re learning another language, because they’re often treated differently than indirect objects. You’ll also probably expand your vocabulary, and if you’re anything like me, you may nerd out on sentence structure differences while you’re at it. (Did you know that some languages put the verb BEFORE the noun?)
You can meet new people and hear their stories. I rattle on a lot about having a curious mind, but how cool is it to meet people from different backgrounds and listen to their experiences? You can do a lot of that with just English, but knowing a second (or more) language expands your ability to do it tenfold. Like I said in #1, you never know who you’ll meet, or what they might be able to teach you.
There are as many reasons to learn a second language as there are languages in the world (almost 7,000 at last count), so feel free to come up with your own motivation, but you can’t deny that learning a second language would probably change your life for the better. And like I said, it’s never been easier to get started, so no excuses! Go do it!
P.S. Learning languages is Day 6 in my free email course, Create a Lifelong Learning Habit, and we talk all about the best platforms out there for becoming bilingual. Be sure to sign up here!