EMPLOYMENT: speaking another language broadens your employment opportunities. Between two candidates with the exact same skill sets and experience, the person who is bilingual becomes the ‘more valuable’ employee. The Economist points out that knowing a foreign language brings economic benefits.
RELIGION: missionaries and religious organizations can use their knowledge of other languages to spread the Gospel.
EDUCATION: almost all colleges and universities have a foreign language course requirement. Taking a language class in high school equips students with the necessary tools and skills they need to either test out of the language requirement or place into a higher level course. In doing so, they shorten the number of semesters they have to take a language course, giving them more time to take classes in their selected major/minor.
HEALTH: being bilingual not only makes traveling easier, it also has many important health benefits. Research indicates that bilingualism enhances mental abilities in both children and older adults and can improve your memory and slow down/reduce age-related decline in mental acuity (including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia). Furthermore, studying another language improves cognitive skills and overall brain function; it stimulates creativity and makes you smarter by improving critical thinking skills.
INCREASE IN BRAIN POWER: Ellen Bialystok, a psychologist at York University in Toronto, found that students who study foreign languages tend to score better on standardized tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of math, reading, and vocabulary. Additionally, a study conducted by researchers from University College London has shown that learning other languages altered grey matter – the area of the brain which processes information – in the same way exercise builds muscles.
CONFIDENCE: learning a foreign language is a difficult, but incredibly rewarding experience. As you overcome some of your fears and doubts, you will learn more about yourself and boost your confidence at the same time.
IMPROVE DECISION MAKING SKILLS: a study from the University of Chicago found that when people speak in a second language (not their native tongue), it helps eliminate their tendency toward “loss aversion”, that is, getting to caught up in the “here and now” to make choices that could profit us further down the road. Being bilingual might actually help improve your ability to make wiser financial choices.
LEARNING OTHER LANGUAGES: once you learn a second language, it makes learning another language easier!
TRAVEL: simple things like reading signs and menus, asking directions or telling a cab driver where you want to go, require some knowledge of the language. When you know the language of the country you are traveling in, your experience completely changes as you move from the role of observer to that of an active participant!
STUDY/RESEARCH: learning another language gives you access to a greater range of information about particular subjects and enables you to communicate with people from other countries.
MEET NEW PEOPLE/DEVELOP LIFE-LONG FRIENDSHIPS: learning another language opens up the possibility of meeting people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds.