The benefits of learning languages

Everybody can benefit greatly from his or her knowledge of at least one foreign language: benefits concern both your working and personal life and can also extend to your health.

First of all, knowing one or more foreign languages is always a great asset when applying for a job and carries considerable weight with employers. Companies often need to establish and maintain relationships with foreign clients and stakeholders: employees are needed who can understand, speak and write the language used for communication between the company itself and these other parties. Even though English is most frequently required, the knowledge of other foreign languages is held in high regard as well, since being able to communicate with its stakeholders in their own language is very important for a company and shows great consideration on its part.

Knowing one or more foreign languages can represent a great asset to your personal life as well. Travelling becomes considerably easier if you know the local language or at least a language which allows you to communicate with local people; moreover, meeting new people and keeping in touch becomes quite simple. Knowing a foreign language also means having access to the culture expressed by that language and to the possibility of fully understanding it.

Learning to think and express yourself in different language systems improves your problem-solving attitude as well: getting in touch with different cultures means realising that others may think and act differently, hold different opinions and cherish different values. Nothing is set in stone and understanding different ways of thinking may help you find new approaches. Being able to switch between different linguistic and cultural systems can also improve your multitasking skills.

However, learning foreign languages may also have a positive impact on your health. According to several studies conducted in this field, speaking more than one language can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia: tests were conducted both on monolingual and bilingual individuals and – even though both categories showed the same level of cognitive impairment – the latter seemed to be diagnosed with the disease about four years later. Furthermore, bilingual people’s brain seems to work better and longer after the first signs of Alzheimer’s occur. This seems to be due to the fact that bilingual people exercise the executive control system more, since they need to keep two language systems separate: their brain, in fact, provides them with multiple choices for every word, establishing the need for them to constantly switch between two different languages. This exercise is thought responsible for bilingual individuals’ ability to cope better with Alzheimer’s. Even though this research was tailored specifically on bilingual individuals, the same benefits seem to be enjoyed by those who start learning a second language later in life as well. (*)

Finally, there’s another reason to learn one or more foreign languages: it is a lot of fun! It is an eye-opening experience and even though it requires hard work and constant exercise, it is extremely rewarding. What are you waiting for?

(*) Further information can be find in the article used to write this entry (https://www.livescience.com/12917-learning-language-bilingual-protects-alzheimers.html)

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