11 In Language learning/ Linguistics/ Portuguese/ Spanish

WHY YOU SHOULD START LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE LIKE, YESTERDAY

1. If you’re monolingual, you’re actually a minority.

That’s right. There are actually more people in the world who speak two languages than people who speak only one language. So, why not join the majority of the planet and learn a second language?

2. You may offset diseases that come with old age.

There are many benefits to learning a second language as an adult. However, I believe that one of the most appealing reasons has to do with health and well-being. As a person ages, it is normal for them to experience a decline in cognitive control. Bialystok (2009) studied a sample of 184 participants; half of the individuals were bilingual and the other were monolingual. She found that “bilinguals showed signs of dementia four years later than the monolinguals–with a mean age of 71.4 and 75.5 for monolinguals and bilinguals respectively” (Bialystok 2009: 8-9).

All in all, many studies support the idea that you may be able to put off the onset of age-related diseases just by knowing a second language. 

Processed with Snapseed.3. You’ll be more appealing as an employee.

It’s becoming harder and harder to stick out from the competition in job interviews. So, how about adding speaking another language to your resume? Not only will you be more appealing to companies in your home country, but global companies are also more likely to look your way.

4. You’ll surprise foreigners by not being a “typical American”.

I can tell you from personal experience that there is no better feeling than breaking negative American stereotypes. I love speaking Spanish or Portuguese and telling someone my nationality. The typical response is “wow, you don’t meet many Americans that speak another language” or “usually I have to speak only English with Americans”. Surprise the foreigners you meet instead of reinforcing American stereotypes.

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Brazilian carnaval in Florianópolis.

5. You’ll meet people you never would have met otherwise.

Speaking another language automatically opens the door to being able to communicate with millions of other people. You’ll be able to feel safer when you travel and have more options to meet people. Let’s say you’re staying at a hostel and the only other guests are Spanish-speakers who don’t speak English. Don’t you want to have the chance to communicate with them?

6. English may be important now, but it won’t always be.

Yes, English is undoubtedly the current lingua franca. However, here’s the thing: the lingua franca changes over time. In fact, prior to WWII, French would have been considered the lingua franca and much more important than English. The widespread use of English has advanced with the importance of English-speaking countries. Looking at history, countries and languages rise and fall in prestige over the years. English is important now, but if we look at language patterns over time, it is most likely that English will not be as significant in the future. The excuse that you don’t have to learn another language because you’re American may work now, but it may not work for your descendants. 

References

Bialystok, E. (2009). Bilingualism: The good, the bad, and the indifferent. Bilingualism: Language and cognition12(01), 3-11.

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Kelsey
    October 17, 2016 at 12:16 am

    do you have any suggestions for learning Spanish for someone who’s not in school anymore?

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      October 17, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Hi Kelsey! Depending on whether or not you already have a base in Spanish grammar, I have a few different suggestions. If you’d like to refresh yourself on Spanish grammar, definitely check out Duolingo. If you already feel like you have a strong enough base in grammar and listening, I recommend watching TV in Spanish with Spanish subtitles (to make sure that you catch all of the words). If you’d like to know some good TV shows, you can check out my article “The Best TV Shows to Learn Spanish” 🙂 Let me know if this helps!

  • Reply
    Brittany
    January 17, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    This a cool blog post! I learnt Spanish for around 3 years at college! It’s really handy to know a second language! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    LC of Birdgehls
    January 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Haha, I have this argument with myself all the time! I did two years of French and studied German for a year and have retained NOTHING. But, will keep persevering – am thinking of doing Russian classes this year for a) fun and b) future travels in Central Asia. Hopefully something will stick this time round. 🙂

  • Reply
    Natalie
    January 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    I just LOVE this idea!! I am also monolingual (though I have a very elementary vocabulary of French but am not sure how much you need for it to ‘count’ , but we learn a little of the language for each place we visit. I think it is especially important for the kids to learn even a few words and to USE them on their vacation. Please, thank you, hello, etc. is just good manners – everywhere and are not at all hard to learn. We are currently learning some Greek before the next adventure in Greece!

  • Reply
    Rhiannon
    January 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Number 4 yes yes yes!! From a language learning POV I find British people to be the most lazy I’ve ever met. Very few actually bother learning a second language past compulsory education as they all seem to have the “but everyone speaks English anyway” mentality.
    Every time a native Spanish/Italian speaker compliments me and says how ‘they’re surprised I know the language’ I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside haha. I just want to punch the air and be all “YEEAAAH we’re not all the same!”
    Fellow 24 year old translator over here 😉

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 18, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I’ve been fortunate enough to live in a (mostly) bilingual city (Montreal). I grew up in French at home and was schooled in English. I also have a university language degree in Spanish & Italian (I’m Italian but never learned the language at home). I took a year of German but can basically only say “I don’t speak German”….lol! Although English isn’t the most spoken language (only based on population not universal use), I still think it’s the most important language to learn as it’s spoken pretty much everywhere especially when it comes to business relations.

  • Reply
    Kristine
    January 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Being multilingual is a big advantage for frequent travelers. Growing up in Norway, I started learning English at the age of 8 until I graduated from high school. I also speak French, which came in handy while traveling in North Africa 🙂

  • Reply
    Clare
    January 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    I am learning spanish, I should be fluent by now, but its hard to practice when I am in the UK. I love spending time in South America. I love going to places where no one speaks english and I am forced to use my spanish, in no time I am good again then!!

  • Reply
    Ticking the Bucketlist
    January 19, 2017 at 2:39 am

    I went to South America last month and realised that I should have learnt Spanish. However, I am an Indian. We have 19 official languages. We are really so busy learning all the languages in our country, as well as English that there really isnt any room to learn more until you feel the need to!

  • Reply
    Joanna
    January 19, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I had to learn Spanish while traveling, because in South America, in the remote areas I like to travel to, almost nobody speaks English. Not once I was the only English speaking tourist in a group and it was kind of embarrassing to get everything translated by the guide (and get only half of the info). I speak 4 languages but Spanish was not one of them. Not it kind of it 🙂

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