With Brexit upon us there’s been a lot of rhetoric in the media about language learning and the lack thereof in the UK. As a nation, we aren’t the best at learning second languages, often with the attitude that ‘English is everywhere’ so why do we need to learn another language? And whilst you might just about get by with English in most of your holiday destinations there are so many benefits of second language learning that might just make you change your mind.
First of all, studies have shown that the majority of monolinguals are completely unaware of the health benefits on learning another language. It not only improves your cognitive abilities such as your memory and decision making ability but it also decreases the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life!
Something a bit more obvious is that learning another language in todays job market also makes you much more employable. Whilst there are the obvious job routes such as teaching and translating that many people automatically associate with bilinguals, there are also so many companies that state ‘a second language’ as a preferred skill on their job adverts. It puts you in a great position against other candidates in today’s competitive market, in any field.
Another reason that is not often considered is that learning a second language can massively improve your confidence. It does require persistence so seeing yourself improve can really help you in other areas of your life and really improve your self-esteem! Also, you have the opportunity to meet people from other cultures and see the world through their eyes, in their language. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to travel to the country of your target language, we are lucky enough in the UK to be home to many different cultures and access to second language speaking practice with native speakers is likely to be much more accessible than you might think!
Finally, the best reason, it’s FUN! People often associate language learning with their GSCE German classes in which they spent the entire time being confused by the grammar and just thinking of ways to pass their exams with as little effort as possible. But, language learning doesn’t have to be like your GCSE German classes. There are loads of great ways to learn with today’s technology. There are apps like ‘duolinguo’ that are completely free. You can literally learn a language on your phone, on the bus, on the way to uni. Also, with the power of social media, finding language meet ups has never been easier. There are so many adverts on Facebook and other platforms so that learning a language can be fun, easy, and free!
Learning a second language is so beneficial to so many aspects of your life and is so accessible that you really have no excuse. Download an app, meet someone new, and get learning another language.
Published in The Spark Newspaper March 2018