What are the benefits of learning a second language? Learning a language is essential if you're going to live abroad, and useful if you are travelling. But these aren't the only advantages that studying another language brings. It opens up so much of the world to you. These are some of the incredible benefits of learning a second language …
One of the greatest benefits of learning a second language is that it gives the brain an excellent workout. Our mind needs exercise as much as our body does. Learning vocabulary and grammar stretches your mind. So try a new language just for the fun of it - you may find that you have a use for your new knowledge one day.
If you enjoy travel, you may be planning to visit a new country. Learning some of the language will help you in many ways. It makes dealing with travel, ordering meals and asking for something very much easier. Knowing something of the language also allows you to chat to locals, which makes the trip even more enjoyable and shows you a different side to the country than what tourists normally see.
You may not be worried about the possibility of developing dementia when you're older, but the rates of dementia are growing. Although you can't remove all the risk, it's considered that speaking a second language helps protect you against developing the disease. So help yourself by studying another language.
Certainly you can watch foreign-language movies with subtitles, and read books in translation. But reading books in the original language and listening to the soundtrack of a movie make the experience richer. Translations are never quite the same as the original text, so having at least some familiarity with the author's language allows you to appreciate their work better.
Forget those excruciating, tedious classes that you took at school - language learning can be a lot of fun. There are so many ways to learn - you can take a class, follow a teach-yourself course, spend some time in a country where it's spoken, listen to podcasts or read a newspaper. Language learning offers so many routes.
Many of us want to experience life in a different country. If you want to move abroad, make sure you have at least a basic grounding in the language spoken there. It's not only a courtesy to your new country but will make life there so much easier. You'll need to be able to communicate with people like your landlord, doctor, shop assistants and government employees. Never assume that everyone speaks English.
Finally, speaking another language gives you the chance to make new friends. If you move abroad, you shouldn't restrict yourself to only making friends among your compatriots. Even if you stay in your own country, speaking another language means that you can make friends among people who have come to live there.
I really enjoy learning Spanish, and am now learning Catalan. Being able to communicate has opened up so much to me, and I love seeing my knowledge improve. Even if you think that you're no good at languages, have a go - you may find it easier than you think. It's a question of finding the approach that works for you. Which language would you like to learn?
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