Self-development is something that everyone should show more interest in. When you aim to develop yourself, you make a commitment to improve every aspect of your life. That’s because ultimately, your life is dictated by the things you say and do and the way that you interpret the events that happen to you.
Investing in yourself is the best investment you can possibly make and will yield countless rewards.
And for all the different ways that you can develop yourself, few things will have wider reaching or more profound results than learning another language.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the benefits of learning another language and a few of the myriad ways it will improve your life.
Let’s start with something a little bit shallow. Because let’s face it, we all like showing off and we all like impressing people. And few things will impress someone more than being able to speak in different languages. Not only does this demonstrate great discipline, will, and determination on your part, but it shows the intelligence and skill necessary to be successful. It also suggests that you might be well traveled, cultured and certainly a useful person to have around. There are few times you’ll feel more smug than when you successfully order dinner in an Italian restaurant by speaking to the waiter in Italian.
Believe it or not, learning another language is really fun and very rewarding. If you can speak to someone in their native tongue and get it right, you’ll find that it’s a great feeling and really motivates you to keep going.
When you learn another language you don’t just learn the language. Another of the benefits of learning another language is that you’ll learn more about the culture and the way that the people from that country think. You’ll discover new TV shows, new films, new books and more and will be able to enjoy them in their original language as they were meant to be enjoyed.
Your language is much more than just a means of a way to communicate with other people. It is also a tool that you can use in order to think and to juggle ideas in your mind’s eye. This is the basis for the ‘Sapir Wharf Hypothesis’, which states that our language provides a kind of context and framework through which we can achieve complex thought. Think of it as being similar to a programming language that you can lie on top of your brain’s ‘binary code’. By learning a new language, you can approach problems in an entirely new way and hopefully thereby come up with solutions that you wouldn’t have done otherwise!
This is one reason that learning a foreign language is great for your brain. But it also has some other, much more direct benefits regarding your brain power. People who can speak multiple languages have been shown to be less likely to develop age-related cognitive decline – issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Moreover, polyglots are also more likely to have thicker cortical matter – more grey matter leading to greater global brain connectivity and thus greater intelligence.
Or how about the fact that learning is good for you in itself?
The brain learns by creating new neurons and new neural connections between existing neurons. These processes fall under a blanket term called ‘neuroplasticity’. The more ‘plastic’ your brain is, the better able you will be to form new connections and to learn more things.
And guess what the best way to make your brain more plastic is? It’s to keep on learning new things. When you learn anything new, this encourages the release of neurotransmitters called brain derived neurotrophic factor, dopamine and nerve growth factor. All of these are responsible for making the brain more plastic. In other words, the more you learn, the easier it is to learn!
Why do you think a child’s brain is so plastic? Why do you think children are so great at learning? It’s because they are constantly discovering new things. Children are learning how to talk, how to walk and what everything does and so their brains are awash with these chemicals.
Unfortunately, you will never be able to replicate that situation entirely. But what you can do, is to learn a new language – which is one of the biggest learning tasks there is and one of the very best ways to challenge your brain.
We’ve already seen how learning a new language can help you to enjoy a range of new entertaining and information and how this can allow you to discover new cultures and broaden your mind.
But what of all the new people you can meet? There are few things more amazing than being in a beautiful location somewhere in the world, listening to the waves lap against the sand and glasses chinking in the night while you engage in an enthralling conversation with someone from another country.
Think of the friends you can make and even the potential partners you could meet!
Then there’s the simple fact that learning a language is great for your career. There are few things that you can put on a resume that will have more of a positive impact than stating that you speak multiple languages. This is one of the most practical benefits of learning a foreign language.
And speaking of practical benefits of learning a second language, how about the simple fact that it can help you to get around when travelling, or speak to tourists visiting you at home? This is a skill that could someday help you out in a pinch and it’s a fantastic one to add to your bow.
So what are you waiting for? Pick a language and get learning!