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Sure, you’ve probably heard someone say–and maybe you’ve even said it yourself–that everyone speaks English, so what’s the point in putting a ton of effort into learning a new language? We at Extempore certainly don’t subscribe to that notion. In fact, we think learning a new language is one of the most enriching challenges that you can undertake for yourself. So, if you feel like you need some convincing, or if you want to convince someone else, here is a list of 10 reasons to learn a new language (but there are so many more!).
1. Challenge yourself — Learning to communicate and understand another language might be one of the most challenging things you can learn how to do (and most rewarding, too, of course!). There are thousands of new words to learn, innumerable idiomatic expressions, countless grammatical inflections, not to mention the array of dialectal differences that you may encounter. It may seem overwhelming at times, but there’s an unbeatable feeling you get when you string together a particularly clever or well-phrased sentence for the first time.
2. Brain power — Researchers have been showing for a long time that learning a new language can truly build brain power! It may also help protect against the effects of Alzheimer’s. Not only can it impact brain development in younger learners, it can also teach you how to problem solve and negotiate and appreciate sophisticated subtleties in one language that may not be present in your own. For example, my students always get their minds blown when they really start to understand the power of the subjunctive in Spanish!
3. Learn about your own language — As you start becoming more comfortable in your new language, you’ll inevitably start realizing how complex (and interesting) your own first language is. This metalinguistic knowledge you gain from the new language can be applied to your first language, and this can help you express yourself in more sophisticated ways, which will give you a boost at your job or in school!
4. Have fun! — As you can see above, learning a new language is challenging, but it can also be fun because you’ll be learning about other places, people, food, history, etc. You’ll also be communicating with people, playing games, performing interactive tasks, and expressing yourself in brand new ways.
5. Broaden your horizons — A new language isn’t just a list of verb conjugations. When you learn a new language, you also learn about other ways of life. Opening yourself up to new cultural practices and traditions will make you a more worldly, educated, and sympathetic person. You’ll appreciate the world’s diversity but also recognize the cultural and linguistic commonalities that we share with others.
6. Live or study abroad — Armed with another language, you can confidently explore another country, whether it’s to live, study, or work. You’ll have a new, more informed lens through which to view this new host culture and your experience there will be unforgettable.
7. Enhance your travel experiences — Even if you’re just passing through another country for leisure, your ability to express yourself abroad will positively impact your trip. You’ll be able to meet new people, learn more about the surroundings, order food, and generally feel like you’ve delved deep into the host culture. These memories will last a lifetime!
8. Meet new people — Learning a new language is a way to make lifelong friends. Perhaps it will be with your fellow learners, classmates who have struggled with you to learn the language. Or maybe you’ll bond with a host family if you stay abroad in Costa Rica, Belgium, or South Africa. The point is, doors will be opened to you and walking through them will enrich your personal life in countless ways.
9. Professional opportunities — Speaking of doors, knowledge of another (or many) languages can prepare you for the job market. In a more integrated, globalized word, linguistic and cultural proficiency are big-time plusses for new candidates, whether that’s in business, law, medicine, teaching, and anything in between.
10. Impress people! — When you can speak another language, especially here in the United States, you’re showing people that you’ve acquired a skill that not just anyone has. You’re also demonstrating that you’re a worldly, accomplished person and many people are drawn to that. Consider that when you start your lessons!