The benefits of learning a second language are priceless. But you’d probably like more specific details than that, especially given the time and energy goes into developing bilingualism.
On this page, you’ll discover exactly what you can expect, and discover why the word “priceless” is the only one that makes sense.
On the flip side of the coin, there are the costs of not learning a second language. These range from lost income to opening your brain to the risk of developing diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
My point isn’t to scare you, but rather to drive home this critical point:
Every day you aren’t developing your fluency in a second language, you are leaving more than life’s many treasures behind. You are potentially missing out on life saving advantages of learning a foreign language you will almost certainly regret.
7 Incredible Benefits Of Learning A Second Language
Let’s get started on making sure you’re inspired with the most important benefit of all. It helps make sure you actually can enjoy every other benefit.
One: Brain Health
If you want to preserve mental sharpness for life, learning a second language is your best bet.
I’ve included this fact at the top of our list, for one simple reason:
If your brain isn’t in top shape throughout your life, then the rest of the benefits don’t matter.
How do we know that developing bilingualism improves your chances of living without dementia or Alzheimer’s?
According to Ellen Bialystok, one of the world’s leading researchers in this area, language learners are rewarded. Positive benefits flow because learning languages develops “cognitive reserve.” This in turn protects the brain thanks to the development and fortification of the brain’s white matter.
Even if you are at risk, her research shows that learning a language can delay the onset of symptoms by five years or more.
(Although somewhat different, Dr. Christine Till’s research mirrors this, particularly when it comes to having regular contact with others while training your mind.)
Two: Increased Social Benefits
The math here is easy to understand: When you know more than one language, you can know more people.
Not only do you get more powerful brain exercise, but increased language abilities leads naturally to more social connections.
Plus, the more you discuss with others in multiple languages, the more exercise your brain gets. It’s a win-win across the board.
Three: More Career Opportunities
Want a better job?
According to Forbes, you’re 35% more likely to get one if you speak at least one other language.
Not only that, you’re more likely to get raises and promotions.
What languages are best for your professional or business career?
The answer is ultimately subjective, but I’d suggest you consider placing these languages at the top of your list:
Yes, even if English is your mother tongue, you will benefit from doubling down on how well you speak it. Doing so will also help you read faster, which is also great for expanding your career options.
Four: Juggle More Ideas and Tasks Efficiently
According to Judith Kroll’s research findings at the Bilingualism Mind and Brain Lab, learning another language does more than just improve your brain. It makes it more adept at juggling multiple ideas and tasks.
As Kroll discusses in The Handbook of Second Language Acquisition, your brain learns to handle and even create concepts better when you regularly learn another language. Because words are always involved, multiple grammars sharpen your ability to place things in order. It’s literally like juggling with your mind.
Note: Some people incorrectly say that this research means you can multitask better. Actually, it’s more likely task switching that you improve at, which is even more beneficial. You’ll still want to focus on one thing at a time when it comes to optimal performance at work.
There’s actually a whole science to focused attention that is well worth learning about if you want more of the science behind why learning anything over time improves your life.
Five: Cultural and Historical Knowledge Boosts
Admit it: You wish you knew more about other cultures around the world. And how about history?
Now stop wishing and start learning that language on your bucket list.
As you do, you’ll open the doors to art, cinema, literature, history and politics.
Plus, you’ll come to understand the different quirks that make people around the world so unique.
Six: You Will Build The Foundations For Learning Much Faster
Have you ever heard the phrase: “The more you learn, the more you can learn”?
It’s absolutely true due to realities demonstrated by neuroscience.
Here’s what I mean:
As you learn, your brain creates physical connections. The more you have, the quicker and more naturally you make the connections.
For example, when you’re using memory techniques, it helps a great deal to know the facts that you’ll be learning about other cultures.
If you know that “Einstein” in German could literally mean “a rock” (ein Stein), you can use Einstein holding a rock or listening to rock music to help you learn the word der Rock for skirt.
As you continue making these associations, the ability to rapidly make more connections increases.
And if you need more memory help, I suggest enrolling in Memory Palace Mastery:
Seven: Pleasure While Traveling Increases
It’s a small thing, to be sure, but I’ll never forget ordering food in Germany for the first time.
Then, just having some small talk with people in the bar rapidly increased the fun I was having. The locals really warm up to you, even if you’re new to the language and nervous.
The more you grow in the language, the more this enjoyment increases.
And when you visit the same countries repeatedly over time, the cultural understanding you’re able to cultivate while at home gives you more to talk about the next time you take a trip.
Learning A Second Language Benefits Everyone
As you can see, picking up another language offers many rewards.
But the best part is that it helps you contribute to the world around you.
This fact is important because when we focus only on ourselves, we lose out. And it can be hard to keep up motivation for continuing to learn the language.
But when we focus on being a better leader or having a better career and being more fun to serve at restaurants while traveling, it’s easier to keep showing up to the language.
The best part is that even just trying to learn another language makes people who are native in it smile. I see this all the time when I meet with my private coaching clients around the world.
So let me know:
What language do you want to learn and who else beside yourself can you include as part of the journey?
Focus on the benefits for others in addition to yourself and you’ll always be rewarded when learning a language.