Makes you smarter
There is mounting evidence to suggest that being able to speak two or more languages can boost your intelligence. For example, a 2004 study conducted by the psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee found that bilingual children were quicker than their monolingual peers at completing a task that involved sorting coloured shapes. Experts believe that speaking more than one tongue improves the brain’s executive function, which is responsible for directing the attention processes we use for tasks like problem solving and planning.
Multilingualism is even thought to slow the process of ageing in the brain. Research conducted in India and published in the journal Neurology found that people who regularly spoke more than one language developed dementia an average of five years later than their monolingual counterparts.
Opens up job opportunities
Another major advantage associated with being fluent in other tongues is the fact that it can enhance your job prospects. We live in an increasingly globalised world and many roles now require people to be able to speak, read and write in other languages. Employers are often prepared to pay a premium for individuals with these skills.
Makes travel easier
If you’ve experienced the fear and awkwardness of not being able to communicate with people on holiday due to a language barrier, you’ll know how difficult this can make foreign travel. Having to desperately flip through phrase books or make wild gesticulations each time you want to get even the simplest point across does not make for a relaxing holiday. In contrast, being confident in the relevant languages means you can communicate with ease.
Gives you a new perspective
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once stated: “If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.” The fact is, being able to converse freely in a language is the only way to truly understand the other people who use it. Being fluent in other tongues can open up completely different ways of seeing the world. It also means you can understand a whole range of cultural references that you’d otherwise miss.
Of course, these are just some of the reasons why it pays off to speak more than one language. There are many more besides these.
(Photo by Brandon Elijah Scott / Eye & Pen)
Article written by Gail N.