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10 Reasons to Learn a Second Language

by Michael Clayson

When I attended high school, I studied Spanish for four years - mainly because it was a requirement. When I landed a job working in restaurant management at a location with a nearly 100% Hispanic staff, I immediately regretted my lack of commitment when I was younger. Through some online help and a lot of assistance from my workers, however, I eventually became fluent in Spanish. Whether or not your job requires you to learn a second language, there are several great reasons to do so.

1. Improve Self-Confidence

Once you have a second language under your belt, your self-confidence should improve almost immediately. Knowing that you have successfully mastered a foreign language can imbue you with significantly more confidence in your travels, job interviews, and work interactions - especially if you have employees who don't speak English.

2. Improve Intelligence

Research conducted at York University in Toronto, Canada found that people who studied a second language scored higher on standardized testing compared to those who did not. Learning a second language can expand the breadth of your mind, help you see things in a new light, and improve your overall aptitude.

3. Increase Job Opportunities

The economy is more globalized than ever before. That means that companies in the U.S. are in need of more workers who can speak second languages. If you've been feeling stuck in your current job or career, learning another language might be your ticket out of that rut. According to the website YouGov, only 25% of Americans speak a second language, and that means you can get a real leg up on the competition if you're in that group.

4. Travel More Conveniently

Have you ever wished you could travel the world, but didn't because you were intimidated by communication issues? Learning a second language can put that fear to rest. Even if you only have a basic understanding of German, for example, a trip to Bonn or Berlin suddenly becomes that much more convenient and easy to negotiate.

5. Learn Different Cultures

When you learn a second language, you're going to interact more with folks from foreign lands. That means you're going to have a great many more opportunities to learn about the traditions, music, food, and cultural contributions of those nations. Knowing a second language can give you a glimpse of the colorful differences between the many people we share this planet with.

6. Better Multitasking

Once you get better at your second language, you're likely to find yourself thinking in it from time to time. This is a similar device that your mind uses when multitasking - switching back and forth from one focus of concentration to another. Learning that second language can improve your ability to multitask, allowing you to get more done in a shorter period of time.

7. Speak and Write Better English

As you learn a second language, you're going to conjugate its verbs, adopt its syntax, stock your vocabulary, and develop a host of additional grammatical skills. Believe it or not, those tools can help you bone up on your English, as well. The result is improved speaking and writing skills in your native language.

8. Strengthen Memory

A huge part of learning a second language is memorization. After all, you're tackling a subject that is essentially foreign to your mind. Energizing the memory muscle of your brain allows you to better remember other items and events, potentially making you a stronger worker and enriching your life in general.

9. Help Others

Have you ever seen employees at a retail store having a tough time communicating with folks who don't speak proficient English? If you speak their foreign tongue, you can politely interject and help get the issue solved. This can apply to a great many situations, so start learning that second language if you like being of assistance to others.

10. It's Not as Hard as You Think

Learning a second language really isn't as hard as you think. If it's based on the Latin alphabet, you may find that there's a striking similarity between a high percentage of words and their English counterparts. Even languages built on the Cyrillic alphabet feature similar words to English. I was surprised to find that, when I took on learning Russian as a third language, many of those words were essentially identical.

Final Thoughts

I no longer work in restaurants, but the experience of learning a second language opened up a world of opportunity for me. I eventually landed a position in a financial services company with a significant Hispanic base. I never would have gotten that job if not for my bilingual abilities. Not to mention, I've also picked up some cash over the years through various freelance translation opportunities. Get started on a second language today, and take advantage of the many benefits it presents – you won't regret it.

Can you think of any other reasons to learn a second language?

About the writer

Michael Clayson is a bilingual speaker and writer who enjoys finding unique ways to develop himself and learn new skills.

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