By Felicia Caruntu
For decades, learning a second language has been consistently spoken about and recommended by specialists. According to the Harvard Gazette, it is said to be “a crucial aspect of one’s cultural training.” As the subject has been debated over the years and as job opportunities have advanced, I believe that learning a second language is necessary in today’s world. Currently, over 7,100 are spoken in our world today. Whether living and working in your local community or miles away in a different country, learning a second language can help you advance your career, further the development of your brain and knowledge, as well as deepen your connection to other cultures and traditions.
In terms of advancing your career, learning a second language can give you a leg up in many aspects. Today, there is a lot of overlap between borders, making knowing a second language one of the most in-demand skills according to CNN. If you gain language proficiency, you will come equipped with many soft skills and will even receive a higher salary. According to the Financial Post, “bilingual employees can earn between 5 percent to 20 percent more money per hour than those who speak only one language.” Knowing a second language can also be more than just a soft skill for your career; it can also increase confidence during an interview and advance opportunities within your career like working internationally. In order to learn a second language, you must set goals and timelines which when met, would increase confidence, motivation, and determination.
There are many cognitive benefits to learning a second language, including improved memory and developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills. According to the Annual Review of Linguistics, knowing two languages are the most “cognitively stimulating activity because using languages is one of the most complex activities that humans acquire.” All languages that we have acquired are in constant use whenever we communicate and consistently stimulate the brain. Over the years, many tests have been administered to both bilingual and monolingual people. The APA states that “bilinguals performed significantly better than monolinguals on both verbal and nonverbal intelligence tests.” Bilinguals have greater mental flexibility and have a larger set of mental abilities than monolinguals. Furthermore, speaking a second language can decrease the probability of brain and memory-related issues such as Alzheimer’s. Medical News Today states that “being able to speak two languages could delay Alzheimer’s by as much as 4.5 years.” Overall, becoming bilingual has many positive effects on your brain’s cognitive skills and mental flexibility, and it can delay Alzheimer’s by years.
Adding another language to your skill set can develop your appreciation and knowledge of other cultures and traditions. Just learning the language spoken in another country helps you become a more well-rounded individual. For instance, people who co-exist in knowing two languages create a cross-section between cultures and spark growth. BBC states that 60-75 percent of the world’s population can speak more than one language. Knowing an additional language can drastically increase your social circle and experiences, making you a more versatile individual. Likewise, communicating with others keeps age-old traditions alive, allowing them to flourish.
Overall, with our current resources, learning another language is hardly a pain considering all the benefits it can provide. These advantages include career advancements, creating greater brain and knowledge development—overall creating a more well-rounded and culturally diverse individual. Whether it is on your bucket list, a life-long goal, or just a pastime, learning another language comes with tremendous advantages.