Five reasons to learn a second language

Grace Price, Managing Editor

Learning a foreign language is much more than just a fun hobby, it opens up a world to another culture and holds some great advantages. Whether it’s in a class at school or through an app like Duolingo, making the effort to learn a second language is extremely beneficial. Here are five reasons why learning a second language is such a great idea:

1. To improve connections to other cultures

People who can speak more than one language become more aware of the culture their second language stems from. Being able to speak the language of an unfamiliar culture allows a person to explore that culture more in depth. Whereas information can be found in a translation, first hand accounts of customs and history are preferred as they provide a more in depth understanding. Learning a second language influences a person to have a deeper respect for other cultures as well. 

2. To communicate with more people

Having the ability to speak a second language allows for a person to communicate with people who speak that language. Additionally, it enriches a person’s experience when traveling or studying abroad as they will be able to converse with the local population and assimilate easier.

3. To be a more desirable candidate for careers or colleges

Being bilingual is a huge advantage in applications. It is very appealing to employers and college admission officers as it shows dedication and commitment to a difficult task, demonstrates a desire to understand and aid other cultures and gives them the impression that the applicant will be more hard-working and academically talented than a monolingual applicant. According to a study done by the Center for Applied Linguistics, people who are bilingual are far more likely to perform well in school and be more effective problem solvers. 

4. To have a stronger mind

Numerous studies have shown the beneficial effects a second language has on the human brain. It encourages a better memory and improves the ability to multitask. In a 1947 study done by Dr. Thomas Bak, a lecturer at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, found that young adults who speak a second language perform better on attention measuring tests and have a deeper concentration. The 853 participants from the original study came back in 2008, when they were all in their 70s and proved that speaking a second language also slows mental aging and cognitive decline. 

5. Because it is becoming essential

As global markets become increasingly more integrated, it is becoming more essential to have a bilingual workforce. According to the Department of Labor,  jobs in translation and interpretation are in the top 15 fastest growing occupations in the nation. Additionally, as populations of people who speak languages besides english continue to grow, it will become imperative for people to be bilingual so they can communicate effectively in their jobs. As of 2016, Hispanic people made up 17 percent of the United States population, a number which is only continuing to accelerate. The US Census Bureau believes by 2060 that percentage will increase to about 30, making it increasingly more important for people to learn Spanish. Additionally, as the populations of diverse cultures in the United States continue to grow, more languages will become vital for communication.