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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

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

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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,[1] learning a second language can help you eliminate loss aversion,[2] 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.[3]

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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.

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    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.

    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.

    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.

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    Featured photo credit: Dmitry Ratushny via unsplash.com

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    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 July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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