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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 March 30, 2020

    How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

    How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

    You may have heard someone say they are “totally right brained” or that they’re “a left brained person.”

    There is a pervasive myth that’s been making its rounds for over a century: people have two hemispheres of their brains, and if they have a dominant left brain, they’re more analytical; and if they have a dominant right brain, they are more creative.

    Before we go debunking this theory and then giving some tips for how people can access their creative brain centers, let’s first take a look at where the left brain/right brain lateralization theory comes from.

    The Left Brain/Right Brain Lateralization Theory

    In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when patients injured one side of their brains, certain skills were lost.[1] Scientists linked those different skills to one side of the brain or the other. Thus began the left brain/right brain myth that continues to this day.

    Then, in the 1960s and 70s, Roger W. Sperry led 16 operations that cut the corpus callosum (the largest region that connects both brain hemispheres together) in order to try to treat patients’ epilepsy. Sperry wrote about the differences in the two hemispheres as a result of those surgeries.[2]

    Sperry’s work was popularized in 1973 with a New York Times article about his lateralization theory—that people were either right brained (read: logical) or left brained (read: creative). From here, Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his work and numerous other publications spread the right brain/left brain myth.

    Debunking the Right Brain/Left Brain Myth

    If anything, the lateralization theory of the brain is a gross exaggeration. It is true that people have two hemispheres of their brains. It is also true that there are differences in the composition of those two hemispheres.

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    However, the hemispheres are actually much more interconnected than Sperry’s work initially made it seem.

    In a 2013 study,[3] scientists scanned over 1000 people’s brains, checking for lateralization. They confirmed that certain brain functions occur predominately in one hemisphere or the other but that, in reality, the brain is actually much more interconnected and complex than the right brain/left brain lateralization theory makes it seem.[4][5]

    A New Metaphor for Right Brain/Left Brain

    How do we get past this right brain/left brain myth?

    First, let’s look at what contemporary cognitive science says about brain regions, and creative and logical modes of thinking.

    My background is as an improviser and improv researcher. I wrote Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and think looking at improvisation and the brain can shed light on a new model for talking about unlocking the brain’s creative potential.

    Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans have shown that while trained improvisers improvise (musically on a keyboard, rapping, and comedic improvisation) an interesting shift happens in their brain activity. [6]

    A region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases in activity and creative language centers such as the medial prefrontal cortex increase in activity. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked with conscious thoughts—that inner voice that tells you not to say something or criticizes you when you do.

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    The medial prefrontal cortex is among the brain regions linked with creativity. So, instead of thinking about right brain and left brain, perhaps it’s more current and correct to think about more specific brain regions instead of hemispheres. Perhaps, it’s more useful to think about which activities and strategies will allow us to inhibit our dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes and allow our medial prefrontal cortexes to flourish.

    How to Enhance Your “Right Brain” — Creativity

    Whether we’re talking about right brain versus left brain, creative versus logical, or medial prefrontal cortex versus dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we still know enough to talk about strategies to tap into your creative brain’s full potential.

    So, now that we’ve dispelled the right brain/left brain myth and looked at a more contemporary, cognitive neuroscience theory of brain regions and creativity centers, let’s look at how to tap into the potential of your creative brain.

    1. Performing Arts

    One way to tap into your creative brain centers is to participate in the performing arts. Whether you improvise, act, or dance, the performing arts allow you an embodied experience that will help you snap out of your habitual, logical thoughts.

    Another benefit of the performing arts is that it changes your attention. Attention and creativity are inextricably linked. When we improvise, act, or dance, we have to focus intently on our fellow performers. This means we are forced to focus less on our conscious, logical thoughts. This frees us up for more creative thinking and expression.[7]

    One of the conclusions of my research on improvisation is that focusing intensely on fellow improvisers and the task at hand makes it more likely that we experience a flow state. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi,[8] a Professor of Psychology and Management defines flow as an optimal psychological state when our skills match the difficulty of the task at hand. Our perception of time is altered as we get into the zone and become more present and in the moment during our chosen activity.[9]

    A flow state is a creative state. It’s the opposite of crunching numbers and forcing ourselves to work out a problem with the conscious regions of our brain. So, get up, improvise, act, or dance to access your creativity.

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    2. Visual Art

    Art teacher Betty Edwards[10] wrote a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Here again, we see that a shift in our attention can lead us to an increase in our creative thinking.

    Edwards’ book gives art students tricks to shift the way they see the world. For example, one exercise encourages students to literally flip whatever it is they’re drawing upside down before they draw it. This forces budding artists to literally see the object in a new way. This shift allows them to focus more on the individual components and patterns of the object, which allows them to draw it better.

    Shifting how we see things is another way we can access our creative brain centers. Take an art class to shut off your conscious, critical thoughts and start seeing things from a new, more creative perspective.

    3. Zone Out

    If there’s one thing creativity doesn’t like, it’s being coerced.

    I think we’ve all felt that awful feeling of trying to force ourselves to be creative. When we force it, we’re really trying to force our logical brain regions to be creative. It’s like asking your gardener to perform your appendix surgery. It’s just not what she does.

    Instead, stop forcing it. Take a break. Take a long walk or a relaxing bath or shower. Let your mind wander.

    Whatever you do, stop forcing it. This break lets your creative centers rise to the surface of your attention and get heard.

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    4. Practice Mindfulness

    The final trick to start accessing your so-called right brain is to practice mindfulness.

    Now, there’s a lot of different ways to go about mindfulness. You can take a more physical approach with a yoga class. Or you can try meditating to become more aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

    You could also try to incorporate fun mindfulness exercises[11] into your everyday routine like forcing yourself to go on detours or pretending you’re a detective who needs to examine people and places closely.

    Any way you do it, mindfulness exercises and training can help you become better versed in how your brain works and what your normal thought process is like on a day-to-day basis. If we’re ever going to reach our optimal creativity, we have to become an expert in how our individual brain functions. Mindfulness is one way to become your very own brain expert.

    Mindfulness also has added benefits like calming us, slowing our breathing, and helping us become more observant, which are also great ways to start tapping into our creative potential.

    Final Thoughts

    So, it may not be correct to say that our right brain is our creative brain, but it is still a valid pursuit to try to optimize our creative brain centers.

    The key to do so is to relax, become observant, shift your perspective, move your body, try something new, and, whatever you do, don’t force it.

    Creativity can feel slippery. It can abandon us when we need it most, but by slowing down and looking at things from a new perspective, we can give ourselves a better chance of tapping into our ultimate creativity, even if that doesn’t exactly mean our “right brain.”

    More Tips on Boosting Creativity

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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