Everybody feels proud when another person from a different culture can speak their language. For example, I stay here in South Africa and if you want to receive a warm welcome from people, especially the Zulu, address them in their language. However, nobody ever realizes how many more benefits come with the ability to speak several languages. Speaking different languages improves your life in many ways.
Benefits of being bilingual in the 21st century
There are more than 6,500 languages around the world. Since we cannot control where we are going to be born, we cannot choose which one we are going to speak as our mother language. However, we can decide which language we are going to speak as a second or third language. Speaking more than one language has obvious practical benefits in today’s globalized world, and it has become commonplace for people to know more than one language. The benefits of being bilingual are not limited to having conversations with more people around the world.
Being bilingual can make one smarter if it is practiced. It can improve cognitive skills not only related to language but also fights against dementia. This may explain why more than 50 percent of European middle-aged people try to learn another language.
Benefits of being multilingual
1. A wider range of employment opportunities
We are living in a global world where companies, deal with clients from all over the world and they would really appreciate someone who can speak 2 or more different languages. Knowing more than one language can boost your CV and make you stand out with employers. Employers are keen to hire versatile employees who can speak different languages and bridge the gap across countries and cultures. Being bilingual can therefore broaden career options. International companies prefer multilingual employees.
2. New career opportunities and more money
Not only can knowing different languages help you secure a job but it also keeps opening new career opportunities. Fields like international traveling, hotel and tourism, journalism, and translation require such skills. For example, jobs as translators and interpreters are in the top 15 fastest-growing occupations in the United States, with more such jobs expected to be created in the coming years.
3. Being bilingual opens up social and cultural opportunities
Bilinguals can make friends in more than one language meaning more opportunities to meet new people, and enjoy different hobbies and activities. Being able to communicate with people from other cultures is a huge social advantage and can open up so many more doors in life.
Speaking another language lets you interact with different people and understand the nuances of another culture. You can speak to more people in their own language and deepen connections and understanding, therefore, it opens doors around the world. It widens your social circle by immediately increasing the number of people you can build relationships with. You can talk to people from all walks of life.
There are simply more people to communicate with. Being bilingual can improve your social life due to the simple fact that it allows you to talk to more people. For example, if you were a person who could only speak English but you learned how to speak Japanese fluently, you could then speak to people who speak English and to people who speak Japanese, therefore potentially expanding your social circle.
4. Makes you more open-minded
One of the benefits of being bilingual can mean that you see the world in a multi-faceted way. Bilinguals are more open-minded to new things and new experiences because they have more than one view of the world already. You are more culturally aware and thereby a more rounded person.
5. It provides cognitive benefits
Speaking a second language improves problem-solving, multitasking, and decision-making. Bilingualism can improve brain functions like the ability to focus attention and perform mental tasks. People who speak more than one language can process information more efficiently and easily, their minds are more flexible. According to research, speaking a second language can mean that you have a better attention span and can multi-task better than monolinguals. This is because being bilingual means you are constantly switching from one language to the other.
6. It is beneficial when traveling
Traveling can be cheaper and more rewarding when you speak the language of the country you’re visiting. You won’t be limited to staying in expensive foreign hotels, eating at restaurants where the staff speaks English, or traveling with a tour group.
Instead, you can find your own way and experience the country the way a local would. You might enjoy cheaper access to museums because you don’t have to pay for a foreign-language guide. You will certainly have more opportunities to meet people, engage in conversation and learn about the culture. This makes your traveling more enjoyable and fun.
7. It makes relocation easier
I relocated from Zimbabwe to South Africa in my 20s and I honestly don’t know how I would have survived without the ability to speak English. For many of us, the biggest obstacle in our desire to move to a new place is the language barrier. Take for example if you want to move to Mozambique where the main language is Portuguese. Without knowledge of Portuguese, your life will be difficult and you will miss out on a lot of opportunities due to the language barrier.
8. Helping others becomes easier
There is no time I have felt bad in my line of work like when someone is going through some mental health problems and they call using the little English they know to make contact only to realize I am unable to assist them because of a language barrier. It just sinks my heart. For life to be meaningful, it’s not only about you but what you do for other people.
There are numerous benefits to gain from speaking a second language at any stage of your life. Whether you are young or old, it can only make your life better. The sooner you learn and the more frequently you use your second language, the greater the benefits will be.
So why wait? Start learning a new language today! Get started with a website like FluentU. You’ll thank yourself both during the journey, and when you’re reaping the benefits of being bilingual!
I would love to hear from you about your experiences with different languages so please, leave a comment for me below, and if you found this article useful, please share it with others.
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