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7 Amazing Benefits of Learning a New Language

7 Amazing Benefits of Learning a New Language

There have been numerous studies pointing to the benefits of learning a new language. Yet, recent study shows that only 18% of Americans can fluently speak two or more languages.

Part of the reason is that learning a new language only becomes an interest to us once we reach adulthood, and we mistakenly think that it’s impossible to acquire a new language at a certain age. While it’s not a walk in the park, nearly anyone can learn a new language with a bit of motivation and diligence. Some people have more of an aptitude for learning languages, like children, but we shouldn’t let it discourage us from continuing to improve.

If you need more reasons to motivate yourself to learn a new language, here are 7 amazing benefits backed by science.

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1. You Will Improve Your Native Languages

It’s only when we learn a new language, that we can appreciate the roots and fundamentals of our native language. This is because we grew up speaking our native language, without much thought in terms of how sentence structures worked or breaking down the accents for each syllable.

According to the Impact of the Second Language Education, studying a second language alone will significantly improve the grammar, reading, vocabulary, and speaking skills of your first language. It’s similar to playing basketball your whole life, then learning how to play volleyball, and using those skills to improve your basketball game.

2. Enhances Your Focus

In a study, published online in the journal Brain and Language, individuals who spoke more than one language were observed through an fMRI, while performing word comprehension tasks. Results showed that multilingual individuals were better at filtering out competing words than one-language speaking individuals. This ability to tune out competing words benefits in blocking out distractions to focus on the task at hand.

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Luckily for us, studies have shown that even those of us with minimal knowledge of a secondary language can reap the advantages of these traits.

3. Prevents Common Brain Diseases

Hopefully none of us have to worry about this anytime soon, but aging is something that is common in all of us. When it comes to the brain, learning a new language can prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by 4.5 years. This is a far more powerful than the best drugs, which only delay the symptoms by 6–12 months.

4. Learn Anything Faster

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

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5. Become More Outgoing And Liked By Others

Language learning is not only about communicating in a foreign language, it’s 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 a new language, you’ll need to work with a native speaking teacher (or a coach on Rype), use conversation exchanges, 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 experience of speaking with conversation partners is essentially the same as meeting anyone. The skills of being communicative and sociable are directly transferable to other areas of your life. Most importantly, learning a new language helps you step into the shoes of people different to yourself and see the world from a contrasting perspective — therefore developing empathy for others.

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6. Double Your Creativity

We often have to puzzle together words to form a sentence until it fits and makes sense for another person. Learning a new language improves your divergent thinking skills, training you to produce multiple solutions to problems on a consistent basis. This “out of the box” experimentation practice is why researchers have concluded that multilingual individuals are more creative than monolingual individuals.

7. Boost Your Confidence Level

When we set out to achieve something and find success, it boosts our confidence levels — no matter how small the success. Even being able to carry a 30-second conversation with a native speaker can significantly boost your confidence, because you know it’s something you wouldn’t have been able to do before.

This “yes, I can!” mentality will become your personal mantra, and can be applied to any goal you want to achieve in your life.

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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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