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This Is What Will Happen When You Start Learning Spanish

This Is What Will Happen When You Start Learning Spanish

Most of us have studied or learned a second language sometime in our education, whether it was at elementary school, high school, university, or beyond.

For those of you fortunate enough to have learnt Spanish (or be learning Spanish), the benefits may outweigh those offered by learning other languages.

For one, Spanish is no longer considered a foreign language. There are 38 million people in the US alone speaking Spanish, and HIspanics will make up 30% of the population in the US by 2050. In addition, Spanish is spoken in 20 countries today, with 44 countries containing at least 3 million Spanish speakers.

Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language across the world, as such, you’ll know you are going to gain great rewards for the time you take learning to speak Spanish. Even the British are swapping French for Spanish; The British Council’s “Languages of the Future” report ranks non-English languages in order of importance for British citizens to learn, based on a thorough analysis of cultural, economical, and diplomatic factors. Spanish topped the list, followed by Arabic, French, and Mandarin.

Here are some other amazing things that will happen when you start learning Spanish.

1. You’ll open up more career opportunities

As the population of Latinos continues to increase in the US and around the world, there is a huge demand for individuals who can speak Spanish. And this demand will only rise faster than ever as Spanish-speaking economies continue to thrive ($6 trillion GDP), backed by the commodities boom.

This is especially important for those of us who want to work in business and the media, as in these industries it is particularly lucrative to tap into the market of over half a billion people who speak the Spanish language. English may be okay if you’re just buying something from someone, but doing complex business deals together is a completely different thing.

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In other words, learning Spanish will not only increase your chances of getting a raise at your current job, but it also opens up new career opportunities around the world.

2. You’ll become an avid traveller

One of the biggest obstacles we have when it comes to travelling is the fear of not being able to communicate.

When it comes to learning Spanish, you’re not just learning how to speak Spanish, you’ll also learn about the amazing culture and people behind the words from South America, Central America, Spain, and more.

You’ll notice the different accents, personalities, and the beautiful attractions that each country has to offer, and open your mind to a completely new world.

Learning Spanish will become not only a valuable education, but a global experience for you.

Spanish-Speaking-Countries

    3. You’ll be a more interesting person

    In today’s society, the knowledge of foreign languages is an attractive feature that many people truly admire — and for good reason.

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    We naturally associate individuals who understand another language with having more experiences with different cultures, being open-minded to new experiences, and simply being more interesting. For example, if you met two random strangers at a party, would you rather talk to someone who has lived in Washington their whole lives, or someone who has traveled and lived in Spain, Colombia, Mexico, and Costa Rica in the past 12 months?

    Learning Spanish will allow you to gain experiences and knowledge that most only dream about experiencing, and will therefore make you a more interesting and attractive person to be around.

    4. You’ll be more outgoing and likable

    Language learning is not only about communicating in a foreign language, but it’s also about experiencing a new culture.

    The first reason is that meeting foreign people is embedded in the core of language learning. In order to practice and improve your new language, you’ll need to work with a native speaking teacher, use conversation exchanges, and/ or attend language meetups. This is similar to how you need to just ride the bicycle instead of watching videos about it; its just part of the process.

    The skills and experience gained from a conversation exchange include being more outgoing and sociable. This can have a positive impact on other areas of your life as well.

    Most importantly, learning a new language helps you step into the shoes of people different to yourself and see the world in a completely different way — therefore, developing empathy for others.

    5. You’ll improve your English/ native language

    Studies have shown that learning a second language can strengthen your language skills in your first language, including speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills.

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    When we think about it, it makes sense. Learning a new language like Spanish forces us to deconstruct every component of the language and learn it from the ground up. This includes accents, vocabulary, sentence structures, and so on. When we first learned our native language as children, it’s a skill that seemed to come quite naturally to us, or we hardly remember the language classes we took in elementary school.

    It’s similar to playing basketball your whole life, then learning how to play volleyball, and using those skills to improve your basketball game.

    “You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”
    — Geoffrey Willans

    6. You’ll learn anything faster

    In a study done in Massachusetts (2007), researchers concluded that the “exercise in cognitive problem solving” through language learning can be directly applied to anything we want to learn.

    When learning Spanish. for example, you’ll be faced with different ways to conjugate verbs, and use new vocabulary that you’ve never encountered before, forcing you to solve a multiple problems in a creative manner.

    In brain imaging studies, scientists have discovered that bilinguals have higher density of gray matter in the area of the brain associated with vocabulary acquisition. Further research shows that your memory retention is also improved when learning a new language. Absorbing and retaining more information can significantly shorten your learning curve, because you can spend more time learning new information instead of re-learning something you’ve already seen before.

    7. You’ll make better decisions in life

    When you’re learning how to speak Spanish, you’ll be constantly making small decisions, such as forming sentence structures, experimenting with new words that you’ve never used before, and trying to understand what the other person is describing to you.

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    A study published online in the journal, Brain and Language, showed that multi-lingual individuals were better at filtering out competing words than monolingual individuals. This ability to tune out competing words benefits in blocking out distractions in order to focus on the task at hand.

    The best news of all this is that Spanish is easy to learn, especially if you work with a professional Spanish teacher. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have in learning languages, you can achieve your goals with a little bit of help.

    In fact, research has shown that even those of us with minimal knowledge of a secondary language can reap the advantages of the benefits we’ve mentioned in this article.

    With the abundance of options available today to learn or re-learn your Spanish, from language learning websites, books, audiotapes, and mobile apps, there’s no reason to wait to get started!

    how to learn spanish

      More by this author

      Sean Kim

      Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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