Many high schools and colleges require a language credit, and technology these days it makes it easier than ever for adults to expand their language skills. But it’s not all memorizing vocabulary — learning a new language can help you in business, personal endeavors, and more! Here, New York, NY tutor Lauren P. shares some of the hidden benefits of learning Spanish...
Whether you’re deciding to major in Spanish in college or considering learning Spanish for an upcoming trip abroad, you may be interested to know the long-term, unexpected benefits of speaking Spanish.
Speaking Spanish opens up an entire chapter of networking opportunities closed to individuals only confident in one language. While most people limit their job search and networking opportunities to the English-speaking world, you can create excellent contacts while traveling abroad or striking up a conversation with a Spanish-speaking family friend or passing acquaintance. With the relatively small percentage of people becoming fluent in Spanish as a second language, you have the chance to make an instantly strong impression on any native Spanish speaker you meet.
Of course, English speaking careers are only a fraction of available opportunities. By speaking Spanish, you are eligible for thousands of exciting jobs in the United States and abroad.
(Editor’s Note: You can learn more ways to make yourself marketable in your job search over at the Money Crashers blog!)
Many administrators of small businesses, schools, and not-for-profits indirectly manage English and non-English speakers. The unfortunate reality is that most of these leaders get by without being able to speak Spanish directly to their employees, customers, or target population. They inevitably limit their interactions and rely on translators when they could instead teach themselves Spanish. If more leaders committed to learning the language of the people they managed and served, they would both receive and display greater levels of respect.
Similar to earning a college or graduate degree, being able to speak Spanish is a valuable skill that warrants higher pay. A potential employee can negotiate a higher salary as compensation for more effectively performing their job and not wasting time or money recruiting translators. By speaking Spanish, you’ll be a more valuable, effective, and higher-paid employee in almost any industry.
Another unexpected benefit of speaking Spanish is that you can contribute to more volunteer opportunities. With Spanish being one of the fastest-growing languages in the U.S. and abroad, many charitable organizations serve Spanish-speaking children and families. Many schools and not-for-profits need Spanish-speaking volunteers to communicate with young children, the elderly, and homeless. Schools, food pantries, shelters and other organizations want volunteers who can make a real connection and therefore a real impact on the families they serve.
If you know that you won’t need to speak Spanish for your future career, you can still increase your income with freelance opportunities. Schools and charitable organizations are always looking to translate their written material and oral presentations. These corporations and small businesses usually don’t need a full time translator, since most translations are needed for only several pages of text or several isolated events. You can set up an email alert from a job-listing database to receive notifications when paid translators are needed. Whenever a remote or local position becomes available, you can make additional income for several hours of work. This is a great way to build your resume and increase your income without changing career paths or quitting your day job.
6. Authentic and Inexpensive Travel
When you travel to a Spanish-speaking country, you will be able to experience the local culture and not have to worry about being overcharged inflated tourist fees. When you speak Spanish, you can negotiate rates for services and prices for goods. You can also ask locals if prices are fair. In addition to avoiding tourist rates, you can avoid tourist traps altogether. Rather than using a travel guide written in English, you can ask locals about the best restaurants, cafes, cultural experiences, and day trips. By speaking Spanish, you can experience different cities just like the locals do.
When you speak Spanish, you suddenly have the option to be friendly to the people you normally ignore. Instead of a polite smile, you can suddenly learn about the mother sitting next to you on the train, the man who brews your coffee every morning, your cab driver, your best friend’s grandmother, or your in-laws. Speaking Spanish expands your ability to learn about the lives of those around you. Your sense of community grows every time you get to know a stranger. The more confident you are speaking Spanish, the more friends and family members you can welcome into your world.
It can be easy to walk down the street feeling isolated from those around us. Whether it’s a citizen of a different country or a stranger living two blocks away, you might imagine your cultural differences are greater than they actually are. You might assume that someone who speaks a different language will also think differently. When you learn to speak Spanish, you can begin to break down these imaginary barriers. You can learn about your neighbors’ beliefs, country of origin, and family traditions. The more you speak to people with a different language background, the more you learn to respect your similarities and differences.
Scientists have always studied ways to stay mentally sharp and delay or prevent signs of dementia. Studies have shown that learning a new skill, including learning a new language, grows and strengthens new parts of your brain. This type of brain exercise does not occur simply from reading or doing crossword puzzles because you have to use new parts of your brain. This is why individuals who are bilingual or learn a language later in life are far less likely to develop dementia or even Alzheimer’s. What better way to reduce Alzheimer’s risk and stay mentally healthy than to learn a useful skill like Spanish?
A person’s ability to plan ahead, solve problems, and stay mentally and physically organized is called their ‘executive functioning ability’. People who struggle with memory or attention often have an underlying executive functioning disability. Bilingual individuals and people who learn a second language, on the other hand, have stronger executive functioning skills. If you have trouble with organization, memory, attention, or problem solving, consider learning Spanish to strengthen your brain in a number of useful ways.
If you want all these unexpected benefits of speaking Spanish, it may be time to find a Spanish tutor to help you. Good luck with your studies!
Want some help getting started? For a limited time, check out one of our live, online classes for free! Reserve your spot here.
Lauren tutors various subjects in New York, NY. She has her Master’s Degree in Education (with a concentration in students with learning disabilities), and is a certified NYC Special Education teacher. Learn more about Lauren here!