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When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You

When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You

Learning a second language is not a walk in the park. But if you decide to do it, the most amazing things will happen to you.

Language teachers have heard just about every possible excuse from students explaining why they’re not able to learn a language right now. Out of the dozens of reasons claimed by these students, none of them are legitimate reasons. Not one.

I don’t have enough time…”
“I learned a language already but I forgot it…”
“It’s just not the right time for me right now…”

It’s likely that you have some of these excuses floating around in your head too. And so did many people who have since learned a new language successfully.

Learning a language is no different from making time to go to the gym. Making time to read a book. It’s all a matter of priorities and commitment. The obstacle is rarely about finding ways to learn a language, but about understanding why you should learn a language.

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Not enough people are talking about the latter, but scientific research has revealed some amazing things that will happen when you learn a new language.

Today, we’ll share 7 amazing things that will happen when you learn a second language (or third, or fourth).

1. Make Decisions That You Used To Struggle Making

The first benefit has the potential to change the lives of many people reading this. Learning a language can help you make decisions faster and more effectively. According to a study done at the University of Chicago, learning a second language can help you eliminate loss aversion, which will allow you to make smarter decisions that will pay off long-term.

You will train in and develop a process for making fast decisions during your language speaking practice. You will be forced to make a decision about what a word or sentence means or about how to say a specific thing, and you will constantly be testing whether it makes sense. There’s no time to reflect when you’re having a live conversation with someone.

Not all of us were born to resist marshmallows when we were young, but we can always train our brains to be tougher. Learning a second language will help you do just that.

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2. Expand Your Career Opportunities And Mindset On A Global Scale

The world is becoming a more global place by the second. Companies in your country are doing more business than ever across the world, and there’s a severe shortage of bilingual speakers. Even if you do not fluently speak a second language, having another language under your belt will immediately show others that you’re a globally-minded individual with cultural experiences that other candidates can’t offer.

The Economist calculated the bonus income one can make from knowing certain languages:

  • Spanish — 1.5 percent bonus
  • French — 2.3 percent bonus
  • German — 3.8 percent bonus

    If you want to get the full list, check out this post on the most useful languages to learn for your career.

    3. Become A More Interesting Person For Others To Talk To

    Learning a second language is not just about adding a language to your repertoire, but about encountering a completely new culture. Many people are fascinated when they learn about new cultures they’re not familiar with.

    More importantly, becoming bilingual will help you connect and be more relatable to other people, especially if you speak a popular language like Spanish or Mandarin. Being fluent is not necessary to achieve this: even having basic conversational skills can do wonders for how people perceive you and for how much value you can add for others. Many of today’s problems come from miscommunication and from people’s feelings of disconnection from others. You’ll be surprised how much speaking someone’s language can unite you with them and allow you to hear what they have to say.

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    4. Experience Travel In A Completely New Way

    Planning trips does not have to be limited to searching on TripAdvisor or simply asking people in your inner circle. There’s a whole different world available to you if you remove some language barriers. Just as you know your city better than any journalist would, local native speakers will be able to show you the hot spots within a city that you would have never discovered on your own. Speaking a second language will allow you to build relationships with locals who will give you an insider’s view of your destination.

    More importantly, you’ll have a global network of friends who you can rely on wherever you are around the world.

    5. Learn A Third, Fourth, Or Fifth Language With Ease

    Once you learn a second language, learning a third, fourth, or fifth language will be much easier. Like building a business or achieving any goal, the process of learning a language can be replicated more easily after you’ve done it once. The first time around is usually the hardest.

    “Every time I learn a new language, I find it easier than the one before. The reasoning is simple: with every new language I study, I figure out ways to learn more efficiently.” -Benny Lewis

    With each language, your confidence improves, your resilience increases, and you develop learning hacks based on your previous language learning experiences.

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    6. Remember Things You Previously Couldn’t Remember

    Scientists and researchers often refer to the brain as a muscle. Similarly to how we get our bodies in shape, we train our brains to remember new words and to think on the spot, and we connect new neurons in our minds.

    With more training, your brain will naturally strengthen, just like a muscle. Small things that you would have previously forgotten will then become easier to remember.

    7. Feel More Connected To Your Roots And Self

    Something strange happens when you’re learning a language, something that rarely occurs in your daily life. With the culture that you discover from your second language, you begin to think about your own heritage. You will reflect more on where you come from, the history of your ancestors, and ultimately where you fit into this world.

    Becoming bilingual makes you come to terms with how you view the world. It will enhance your appreciation of the world you live in, your own culture, and ultimately who you are as an individual.

    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 21, 2020

    5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

    5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

    Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

    All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

    The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

    “Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

    The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

    “The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

    The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

    “The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

    So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

      Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

      1. Build a Memory Palace

        What is it?

        The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

        How to use it?

        Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

        “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

        Example

        An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

        • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
        • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
        • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
        • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
        • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

        You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

        2. Mnemonic

          What is it?

          A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

          How to use it?

          Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

          Example

          I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

          I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

          Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

          Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

          Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

          Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

          C

          J

          H

          D

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          P

          Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

          Cubs

          Just

          Hate

          Doing

          Push-ups

          Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

          3. Mnemonic Peg System

            What is it?

            According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

            How to use it?

            The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

            Example

            Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

            0 = hero

            1 = gun

            2 = shoe

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            3 = tree

            4 = door

            5 = hive

            6 = sticks

            7 = heaven

            8 = gate

            9 = line

            Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

            4. Chunking

              What is it?

              Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

              How to use it?

              In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

              Example

              Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

              Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

              081127882

              Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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              081 – 127 – 882

              Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

              “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

              5. Transfer of Learning

                What is it?

                Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

                “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

                How to use it?

                There are two specific ways to use it:

                1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
                2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

                Example

                I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

                Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

                The Bottom Line

                The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

                We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

                Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

                “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

                More About Enhancing Memories

                Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
                [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
                [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
                [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
                [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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