We Nepalis are, by birth, bilinguals. Our native tongue is Nepali. However, we’re fed English with spoons as soon as we learn to speak. Most are even multi-lingual, we watch Hindi movies and television, so it just comes to us naturally. Not to forget, we also have ethnic languages. So almost every Nepali will know at least 3 or 4 languages fluently. But what about other languages? Many are always wanting to learn a foreign language. But only a few manage to actually take courses to learn a foreign language.
Therefore, we are here today to give you the motivation you need.
Why Learn a Foreign Language?
When you learn a foreign language, you open for yourself a myriad of opportunities. Be it from being a better traveler to having more job choices or more culturally tolerant. Learning a new language isn’t just fun, it is good for your brain’s cognitive function. Here are 5 reasons why you should learn a foreign language if only to take care of your powerhouse.
1. You Become Smart..er
When you speak in a foreign language, it challenges your brain to recognize, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems. It improves the functionality of your brain. This, in turn, boosts your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well. A study by Illinois State University has proved that students who study foreign languages tend to score better on standardized tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of maths, reading, and vocabulary.
2. Multitasking Skills
People who are multilingual, especially children, are good at switching between two systems of speech, writing and language structures. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this skill that they call “juggling” makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. In a particular study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time. It was observed that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving.
3. Improved Memory
A brain is like a muscle, it improves with exercise. Learning a language involves memorizing rules and vocabulary, which helps strengthen the “mental muscle”. To learn a foreign language is an exercise that improves overall memory. Therefore, multiple language speakers are better at remembering lists or sequences. Studies show that bilinguals are better at retaining shopping lists, names, and directions.
4. Increased Perception
A study done by the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They are more adept at focusing on relevant information and editing out the irrelevant. I have found it particularly true. After I learned German, I went on to notice the meanings of seemingly normal words. Such as Kindergarten, or KG for short. It wasn’t until I learned German that I understood it’s real meaning. “Kinder” means Children and “Garten” means Garden. So Kindergarten was basically a Children’s garden. Same for Volkswagen which literally translates to People’s car and Schwarzkopf which translates to Black Head. Multi-linguals are also better at spotting misleading information. No wonder Sherlock Holmes is a skilled polyglot!
5. Better Decision Making
“Multilinguals tend to make more rational decisions,” says a study from the University of Chicago. Any language contains nuance and subtle implications in its vocabulary, and these biases can subconsciously influence your judgment. When you think about your choices in a language other than your native tongue, you can check for sure whether your conclusions are still relevant. So when you are in a dilemma, you could try thinking it over in your second, or third language. If you’re not multilingual, why wait to learn a foreign language?
Now that you know the benefits to your brain, I’m sure you’re more interested than ever to learn a foreign language. Why not go for it, then? It’s not too difficult, after all. And the benefits outpass the challenges, if any.
How many languages do you speak? Please tell us in the comments.