Language Learning Benefits: How Learning a New Language Improves your Other Skills

Knowing another language in addition to your native language is a benefit in itself.  Being able to speak another language creates a lot of new opportunities in your life.  As Frank Smith, a psycholinguist said: “One language sets you in a corridor for life.  Two languages open every door along the way.”

Learning another language has so many benefits that it’s almost impossible to list them all.  One of interesting recent discoveries is that learning a second language can actually make your brain grow! According to a study conducted by a group of Swedish scientists, they were able to prove that our brain increases in size when learning a new language by performing an experiment at the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy with the help of MRI scans.  In addition to making your brain grow, learning a language can have a positive influence on other sets of skills.  Besides providing you with the ability to communicate with a much larger group of people and make international friends, knowing a second language can improve, for example, your memory, understanding of different cultures, etc.

Better memory

An integral part of language learning process is having to memorize new words, grammatical structures, collocations, expressions and so on.  No matter which memorizing technique you chose to help you remember everything you need, learning new language items will definitely improve you memorization skills in general.

In addition to improving your overall memory, there are studies showing that being a bilingual helps delaying aging effects and Alzheimer’s.  

Learn about other cultures

It’s hard to separate language and culture.  We can trace back the origins of certain words or expressions to some custom rooted in some nation’s culture.  Language is influenced by culture and vice versa.  By learning a language of a certain group of people, you get an insight into their traditions, customs and ways of life as well.  If you would just learn a language without any background knowledge on the culture, you would feel confused and end up using certain expressions in wrong contexts.

If we take a look at idioms, for example, we can learn a lot about culture.  Let’s take the British expression “It’s not my cup of tea” (It’s not something that I like) as an example.  By looking at it, we can conclude that tea is very important in British culture, so important that it is used to denote when we dislike something.

Express yourself in new ways

Did you ever feel like wanting to say something, but you just couldn’t find the right words? When you learn a new language, you learn new vocabulary items as well.  That means you get a whole new set of words that you can use to express your feelings and thoughts.

See the world in a different light

Each language may express the same idea in a different way depending on the point of view.  By perceiving how speakers of different languages express different notions, you can get an insight on how they see the world.  For example, Eskimos have a great number of words used to describe snow and make the distinctions that a person not living in a place of constant snow would be able to see.  Another example of different points of view, is that speakers of different languages can group objects by different characteristics, as we can see in the example of Japanese speakers who put objects together based on their material rather than shape.  Also, different languages express events through different tenses according to what they what they want to emphasize and what they perceive as important.  

Better concentration

If you are fluent in two languages (or more) that means that you have to switch between languages and distinguish between different inputs which helps improve your concentration.  Learning a new language can improve your ability to focus since when forming a sentence in a new language you have to think carefully about the order of words, grammatical structures, collocations and so on.

Better listening skills

In order for effective communication to occur, you need to listen carefully to the other speaker to pick up clues that will help you respond in the best possible waay.  Being an attentive listener will improve your second language speaking skills, and as a consequence, you will listen to people speaking your native language more carefully.

It doesn’t matter what your reason for learning another language is – as long as you are learning it.  You can benefit from this process in so many ways, not just on the field of language learning but in everyday life as well.  We showed you just a small part of positive changes that happen while learning a language.