WANT TO BE SMARTER? …. BE BILINGUAL…

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We have either heard or read, about how people are learning new languages every day. And seen numerous articles online with reasons to join in on the fun. I have personally met a handful of people on the Bus to work, who are either learning Spanish or German or Italian…and I often wondered why it is such an important thing for so many people.

So, after doing some research, speaking to people and reading a few articles. I decided to bring all those different reasons here on one page, to motivate you as well.

YOU REALLY DO BECOME SMARTER

According to Anne Merritt, who writes for the Telegraph:

“Speaking a foreign language improves the functionality of your brain by challenging it to recognize, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems.”

This skill boosts your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well. The smarter aspect comes in when students who either already know a second language or are studying one, have the inclination towards scoring better on standardized tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of reading, math and vocabulary.

In addition, you develop four of the key skills linked to learning: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY, PERCEPTION AND DECISION MAKING SKILLS

Because learning a new language increases your brain capacity, you increase your memory skills at the same time too. This is because you are constantly trying to retain the new language, its rules and vocabulary, in your memory thus strengthening your memory-muscles.

Studies have also shown that people who speak more than one language are better at remembering names, shopping lists or any other lists and even sequence of events, a lot easier. They have also shown that they are more focused on filtering our relevant and irrelevant information, including recognizing ambiguous information.

Further research into this concept has shown that bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions. They showed to be more confident with the choices they make after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up.

INCREASE IN MULTI-TASKING ABILITIES

According to a study done by Penn State University :

Recent research indicates that bilingual speakers can outperform monolinguals — people who speak only one language — in certain mental abilities, such as editing out irrelevant information and focusing on important information, said Judith Kroll, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Penn State. These skills make bilinguals better at prioritizing tasks and working on multiple projects at one time.”

Kroll also mentions in this research that when bilinguals speak with each other, they can easily slip in and out of both languages, often selecting the word or phrase from the language that most clearly expresses their thoughts. However, fluent bilinguals rarely make the mistake of slipping into another language when they speak with someone who understands only one language.

IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING A JOB

Whether the job market is tough…or not, companies are constantly expanding globally, and opening offices and branching out to all the different parts of the world. If the employer has a choice of choosing between two candidates for example with the same skills or expertise, but one is bilingual, the chance of being chosen for any job are higher for him or her than the candidate who can only speak one language.

A language study done by the Economist found that, by 2050 half the world might be able to speak the English language. In addition, studies show that ‘knowledge of a foreign language, brings economic benefits’. The article states:

Assuming just a 1% real salary increase per year and a 2% average real return over 40 years, a 2% language bonus turns into an extra $67,000 (at 2014 value) in your retirement account. Not bad for a few years ofoù est la plume de ma tante?”
Another study’s numbers, mention how “…salary bonuses vary depending on the exact language in which you’re proficient. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few different secondary languages and their annual bonuses as reported by The Economist:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/03/language-study#sthash.EmnmbQNI.dpbs

For sake of time, you can read these studies in the Economist link included above.

Another plus point is, when you get bored with your job, or feel like an adventure — having knowledge of a foreign language, might just be the answer to your troubles!

There are lots more advantages of learning another language:

- You become more open-minded

- The chance to discover a new culture and tradition

- Meet new people and change the experience of your travels

- If nothing else — you will impress the people around you!

It’s not an easy process and it takes time and possibly some money, depending on your choice of resources. But I am convinced that it is a lifelong investment you will not regret!

There are numerous studies done on this topic. If you would like to read more, below are just a few of the links I found online:

- http://www.businessinsider.com/bilingual-people-make-better-financial-choices-2012-4?IR=T

- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3739690.stm

- http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/03/language-study#sthash.EmnmbQNI.dpbs

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion

- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583091/


Know of any additional reasons you can think of to learn a foreign language?