Everyone has their own reasons for learning a language, but here’s what they all share in common: receiving life-changing benefits. In this article, language teacher Carol Beth will show you 10 social benefits of learning a foreign language…
When most students think of learning a foreign language, they think of the academic benefits alone: getting into college, impressing a future employer, or gaining an edge in the global marketplace. What many students don’t realize is that there are also tremendous social benefits to learning a foreign language.
Speaking another language can help you make new friends from all over the world, gain a deeper understanding of other cultures, and even improve your romantic prospects! So if you’re looking for ways to boost your social life, learning a foreign language is definitely one avenue worth exploring.
Learning a foreign language can benefit you in real and measurable ways – that’s true. In fact, the benefits of being bilingual include higher salaries, more job opportunities, and healthier lives.
And yet, despite evidence that learning a foreign language is incredibly beneficial, many Americans remain monolingual. Even with language courses in school, the majority of young adults speak only a single language. Learning a language as a child can avoid many roadblocks that adults and young adults frequently face.
Learning a language isn’t just beneficial for practical reasons, like boosting your career options — it’s great for improving your social life too. Let’s take a look at 10 social benefits you’ll receive from learning a foreign language.
What are 5 Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language?
Want to learn a new language? There are countless benefits of learning a foreign age at a young age, including:
- You can experience new cultures
- You’ll be able to get to know other people better
- You can communicate better in general
- You’ll be able to expose yourself to new ideas
- You won’t fear people who are unlike you
Of course, in addition to these social benefits, there are many other academic and career motives behind learning a new language, too.
One of the best ways to learn a new language is to take classes. You’ll learn everything you need to know in order to strengthen your social connections, such as what you’ll see in the video lessons below:
What are 10 Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language?
Here are some of the most prominent social and psychological benefits of learning a foreign language. Although these are the top 10 benefits of learning a foreign language, keep in mind that there are countless others that we haven’t included in this round-up!
Picture this — you just got dropped off in a country you’ve always wanted to visit. Now what? Are you going to pull out a travel dictionary to find everything you need? You shouldn’t, because a translation book will not benefit your experience at all.
Knowing a foreign language will open up an entire new world for you. Even though English is one of the most-spoken languages in the world, it can be difficult to find someone who can speak English for every situation. One of the greatest joys of learning a language is being able to speak it with the locals. By communicating with native speakers, you’ll learn more about the language, your surroundings, and other people very quickly.
Making connections with others is a big part of improving your language skills. For example, if you communicate with a foreign student, maybe they’ll recommend a class you can take to improve your accent. If you speak to a hotel clerk, perhaps they’ll give you a list of places they think tourists would like to see. You’ll never know what you’ll learn from other people by communicating in their language.
For families who have ties to another country (i.e. descendants), learning the family’s language can help connect you with your heritage. By learning the “family language” earlier on, children can grow up with a strong sense of pride for their cultural background.
Some cities with high populations of heritage speakers have schools with bilingual or immersion programs in response to growing demand. Some high schools offer courses that allow students to earn credit while advancing more quickly in their target language. These programs also let students focus on elements of the language that may be the most useful for them.
3. Early Career Preparation
Many communities in the United States have become increasingly diverse over the years. The number of foreign-language speakers in the U.S. has increased by 32% since 2000. Hiring managers may prefer (or require) applicants who speak more than one language, especially if a non-English language is prominent in the hiring area.
It’s a good idea to learn another language much earlier than just before you apply for jobs. That way, you’ll have a head start and your proficiency will be higher. Some of the more common languages in the U.S. (other than English) include: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, French, Vietnamese, Korean, Arabic, German, Navajo, and American Sign Language.
See Also: Not Enough People Speak a Foreign Language in the U.S.
4. New Ways of Thinking
Speaking multiple languages means being able to think in more than one way. For students, this flexible way of thinking means schoolwork often becomes more manageable. Research has shown that students who learn a second language jump ahead of their peers cognitively.
According to a study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), bilingual children can switch between tasks more quickly than monolingual children. The reason is because bilingual brains are wired to toggle back and forth between languages, depending on the circumstances. Therefore, switching between tasks is as natural to them as switching between languages.
An article by The Hanen Centre states that bilingual individuals can focus more easily on specific tasks. Attention and problem-solving increases as individuals become more proficient in another language. In terms of academics, bilingual children tend to outscore classmates not only in language, but also in math and science.
See Also: Brain Benefits and Other Advantages of Learning a Foreign Language
5. Global and Multicultural Perspective
Learning a language often means learning about the culture associated with it. Children who are familiar with several cultures will become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each. In turn, they’ll likely find it easier to understand and be more accepting of people from other cultures.
According to a research paper from Osaka Jogakuin College, children who are bilingual and bicultural from a young age may not adopt exactly the same proportions of each culture; rather by trial and error, they’ll decide what works best for them. This process may not always be a conscious decision — they’ll choose which cultural elements to adapt simply by experiencing the elements of both.
Regardless of how they identify with each culture, bicultural children are placed in a unique position — they’re able to connect with groups in ways that not everyone can. Individuals with bilingual capabilities tend to have a larger global perspective than monolinguals.
6. Proficiency and Accent
Accents are typically developed over time as individuals increase their proficiency. One benefit of having an accent is being able to deliver clear dialogue to other native speakers. Children have the advantageous opportunity to learn a language to native (or near-native) proficiency and speak with little to no accent.
Many studies on the subject share the theme that “the younger the individual is when he/she is exposed to a new language, the greater the probability of acquiring native pronunciation, as well as proficiency in that language.”
The most well-equipped ages for language learning range from preschool or kindergarten age to around age 12. Older beginners can still learn a language quite well, but it may take them longer, and moreover, their accent will likely never match that of a native speaker. It’s never too early or too late to learn, however, for those who want to benefit from learning a foreign language.
7. Become More Empathetic
When you have a higher level of cultural awareness, you’ll be able to demonstrate more empathy for other people from different cultures.
You’ll more closely understand the power of language and will begin to be more careful about how you use it (both in your native and foreign tongues).
You’ll be more attuned to the thoughts and needs of others, something that will benefit you regardless of which tongue you’re conversing in.
8. Improved Native Language Skills
As a shoot-off of the last point, when you can communicate better in another language, you’ll find that you naturally begin to communicate better in your own language, too.
You’ll realize the subtleties and nuances in your own language once you encounter a language that does not have those subtleties. You’ll have more precise use of linguistic expression in the future.
9. Better Self-Confidence and Self-Awareness
Learning another language takes a lot of time, commitment, and frankly, skill. If you dedicate yourself to the task and are successful, you will likely find that you experience a huge increase in your self-esteem.
You’ll feel like you can do anything – which will benefit your social life because you’ll be more pleasant to be around and less self-conscious.
10. Opens Doors to More Social Excursions and Learning Opportunities
Once you learn one new language, there’s a good chance that you won’t want to stop there. You will want to keep taking language lessons until you’re fluent in multiple languages!
Not only are you sure to have a blast doing so, but you’ll likely find that this makes it possible for you to engage in more social activities (like traveling and dining out) that require an additional language. You’ll love all the educational and recreational opportunities that present themselves to you!
How Can I Learn a Foreign Language?
If you’re looking for ways to improve your social life, learning a foreign language should be at the top of your list. Consider these tips to get started:
- Set clear language-learning goals that reflect your passions and schedule
- Study smart and study often
- Use a variety of language learning techniques
- Take the time to learn about the culture
- Try a language-learning app
- Use the language in real life by talking with a native speaker
- Try flashcards and language-learning textbooks
- Watch videos of native speakers and language lessons
Academic Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language
There are countless academic benefits of learning a foreign language – you can read more about some of them here.
But of course, learning a foreign language has many social benefits as well. It can help you make new friends, travel to new places, and learn about new cultures.
If you’re looking for a way to boost your brainpower, social life, and travel opportunities all at the same time, learning a foreign language may be the perfect solution. And with these tips and the right language teacher, you can get started today!
Learning a foreign language is one of the most rewarding experiences you can receive. Whether you want to travel the world or learn a new language for fun, sign up with a private language instructor today and expand your cultural horizons!
Know anymore social benefits of learning a foreign language? Comment below!
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!
Photo by Didriks
5 thoughts on “The Top 10 Social Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language”
Thanks for your question! Are you looking for information for a specific language?
My wife knows a few foreign languages, and I thought it would be fun to learn one as well. It’s interesting that learning a language can actually benefit you in early career preparation. It would be nice to be able to benefit my career.
You wrote that knowing the language of a place you are visiting can open up an entire new world for you, as it allows you to easily interact with locals. My son has been learning German for the last couple years in school, but wants to do more studying, so that he can be fluent. Perhaps an online class would be a great way to give him some extra practice, as it would be easy to do from home. Thanks for the terrific blog.
Absolutely! Online language lessons are a wonderful way to build on the German classes offered at school. If you need assistance finding a tutor – let us know!
Best of luck!
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