As children and young adults, most of us were encouraged that as we wrote the beginning chapters of our life one of those chapters ought to be learning a second language. And yet most of us never took that step into the world of language learning.
Now as we’ve grown so has our thoughts on the benefits of learning another language. Or you’re young and just want to know what’s all the hype about knowing a second language.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Below I have compiled 5 main reasons why learning a new language is worth its weight in gold. Of course, there are countless other reasons, but these 5 have had a direct impact on my life. And I hope will have an impact on yours as well!
Let’s expand your bird’s eye view and get right to it!
1. People are more inclined to open up to you.
How often whether in a grocery store, at school, on the street or at work, have you come across someone who speaks very little English? Despite your best efforts a meaningful conversation simply can’t be had. You were able to communicate with the basic English they knew, but the buck stopped there.
My favorite perk of knowing different languages is the range of people with whom you’re able to build long-lasting relationships with increases. In no way am I implying that you must be completely fluent in a language to be able to have a meaningful conversation.
However knowing, a few phrases is often times the key to opening up a stranger’s hearts and making genuine friendships.
One of my favorite experiences, was when I was doing my volunteer work from door to door. A homeowner who I was offering literature to was an older Asian man. Due to my lack of experience, I wasn’t 100% sure if he was Korean. (But that was the language I was interested in learning at the time.) So I went out on a limb and asked him, “Are you Korean?” He instantly smiled and quickly replied, “Yes! How did you know?” To which I replied “안녕하세요, 제 이름은 Emma 입니다.” I had said “Hi. My name is Emma.” Sure enough, what at first was a blatant “NO”, quickly turned into a “Yes!” Even stating he would share the literature with his family!
So you never know! Had I not known the basic greetings of his language our conversation could have ended very differently.
Learning another language opens the door to many opportunities!!
2. You cultivate the quality of HUMILITY.
Part of learning another language, is also learning humility.
dun, dUN, DUN!!!!!
I know it sounds horrible, but it’s for your own good!
In order to really excel in learning another language, there must be input from those whose mother tongue is the one you’re learning. I’ll give you an example.
Growing up with an afghan mother meant that whenever my El Salvadorian family members were coming over, Afghan food was always what we were eating.. (My Spanish family loves my mom’s cooking). My tía (aunt) always ready to eat, upon entering the house would louldy ask, “¿Estas servido?” which to me, never having it directly translated, always meant “Is it ready?” I should’ve recognized “servido” as a cognate, but alas it wasn’t so.
So one day, I was with a group of spanish speaking friends. Wanting to tell them that I was ready, I said “Estoy servido.” If only i had taken a picture of their appalled, weirded out and one that I think was suppressed laughter- facial expressions. Apparently I had said, “I am serving myself.” Which was clearly wrong in so many ways.
Now had I been prideful about the situation and argued that I was right, I would have appeared like a larger idiot than what I already was.
That’s an example of simply not knowing the correct definition behind a word, but the principle behind it still applies.
You’re not going to know everything right off the bat. Let’s be realistic.
Certain words in certain languages only work in certain contexts.
Unless you’ve been studying diligently and have photographic memory you won’t know all those specific scenarios and chances are someone is gonna correct you! So be okay with laughing at yourself! And be okay with other laughing at your mistakes too. Chances are they find it cute and amusing, not that they’re trying to make you feel bad about yourself. Like the hare & the turtle, it’s not about how fast you’re able to learn but how about consistent you are.
3. You become a better communicator.
If you’re willing to be humble, then learning another language helps you to become a better communicator. Those two come hand in hand!
“Why do they have to come hand in hand?!”
I’m glad you asked, let me explain why.
You learn how to listen, slow down and understand the point of whoever you’re speaking to is making.
When first learning spanish and even now years later, I really have to work on my listening. Although I KNOW the words they’re using, because they speak so fast I have to replay the words they say in my head and make sure I didn’t miss a single word in order to make a proper translation.
Not to mention, you become much more aware of your surroundings and their body language. It comes second nature, and if it doesn’t then you’ll learn it with time. If you pay attention to their body language most likely they will in some way or other make a gesture that indicates what the heck they’re talking about! That has gotten me many pats on the backs, they thought I know what they were saying but I simply followed their eyes and read between the lines!
4. You learn about the culture behind the language.
Now why is that even important??! Geez Booj, these are cringey reasons.
Now hear me out, my oh so anxious reader..
Do you want to be a successful business person?
Do you want to have meaningful relationships with those around you?
Do you want to be able to get along with your mother-in-law?
Do you want to be able to go to the local korean bbq and order some food from Mrs. Kim and finally find out the secret behind the order of eating korean bbq?!?!!!
*WHISPER* Try learning their language.
Whether Korean, Malaysian, Spanish, Farsi, German, Hindi, Chinese Nigerian Pidgin, Xhosa or even New Jersey English (BTW, has anyone seen my dawg Pepe?.. if you didn’t read that with a jersey accent, go back and try again) if you show interest in their language they will likely teach you their local customs.
And trust me, when you are at work and trying to convince your boss to allow you to that vacation day off that you so desperately need because if you don’t get it Brenda swears she divorcing you for reals this time… begging in Korean(which means getting down on your knees and rubbing your hands together) will come in handy.
5. Increase your NET WORTH.
This is last on my list, because money has never been my priority but we all need dolla dolla bills y’all.
Having a second or third language on a resume increases your income! Wooohoooo for the Wayskin Analyzer you’re gonna buy with that extra money!!! Or those extra pairs of socks you’ve been needing since primary school!!!!!!! The possibilities are endless!!!!….. at the dollar store!!!!!!!!!!
I know this from personal experience, but since I’m not a very statistical person I’ve included the link to the article that gives you actual numbers on how learning another language can help you when looking for employment.
One point I thought was so true and I wanted to share with you guys, is that “knowing a foreign language becomes an asset worth its weight in gold: it has the power to differentiate you from other candidates who may only speak one language.”
While it may help you with your relationships, and when traveling- knowing another language can affect you finding a good paying job.
While there were many more reasons I wanted to share, I am a mother of two puppies and duty calls so until next time my sweets! And please share your thoughts and experiences with me, I love hearing from you guys.