Are you looking for a new job? Do you wish you had a way of making your personal life more fulfilling? Do you want to improve your health? It’s time you learned a second language.
When considering the benefits of being bilingual, what comes to mind for most people are the straightforward advantages like being able to ask for directions in Paris or knowing where the men’s washroom is in Germany.
However, the perks of learning a second language are much deeper. Research has demonstrated that your life can improve in many ways when you become bilingual. For instance, it opens up new opportunities for careers and relationships and can even improve your health and wellbeing.
Here are 5 other benefits of learning a second language.
Gives you an edge in your professional field
A second language boosts your resume and can be an advantage depending on what a potential employer is looking for. Nowadays, the market that a typical company serves is becoming increasingly diverse and including people speaking different languages. Multilingual consumers are a massive opportunity for businesses to grow their market.
A growing number of companies are opening global offices to market their products and services across borders. To succeed, they need versatile employees who can speak the languages native in the markets they want to capture. With a second language in your skillset, you’ll be receiving many job offers. Having even a basic understanding of a foreign language is enough to give you an advantage because you can use it to build a rapport with the locals.
New career opportunities open up
If you want to launch a career in a field that’s new or growing, learning a second language can be useful. Interpreter and translator jobs are among the top 15 fastest growing in the US. Not to mention the fact that the military recruiters give preference to people who can speak multiple languages.
Other fast-growing fields that go for people with bilingual skills are national security, healthcare, travel and tourism. Employees in these fields are interested in people who can work across multiple cultures. Likewise, fields such as international development, education and journalism are always on the lookout for bilingual employees. When applying to become a Foreign Service Office or for a position in the Peace Corps, being bilingual gives you an advantage.
Translates into a higher income
The increase in income that comes from learning a second language varies from one job to another. However, the financial gain you get is by no means trivial. According to Salary.com, the differentials in pay resulting from bilingualism range from 5 to 20 percent more per hour. Accumulated over years of employment, the increase in your salary can add up to tens of thousands of dollars when you reach retirement age.
New cultural and social opportunities
The benefits of learning a second language are not only financial. Learning a language allows you to interact with people in that community effectively, with an appreciation of the nuances in communication. A second language therefore equips you to cultivate new friendships and explore foreign film, art and music among other aspects of culture.
Traveling can be more affordable when you speak the language of the country to which you’re traveling because you’re not limited to seeking accommodation in pricey hotels and eating at restaurants where the members of staff speak English. Instead, you can easily immerse yourself in the local culture and sleep in a hostel, for example, where you have more opportunities to meet new people.
Broadens your perspective and cognitive capacity
A new language is a new way of understanding reality in the most literal sense. For instance, people speaking different languages have varying perceptions of color variations that may not be recognized by monolingual people.
It’s also a well-known fact that learning a new language imbues you with a new personality. Research has shown that people’s behavior tends to be altered when they switch from one language to another. It not only changes how you feel about yourself and behave, speaking to other people in a different language also affects how others perceive and therefore treat you.
Further, many studies have shown that learning a second language improves the functions of your brain and its ability to perform mental tasks and focus attention. Improved cognitive capability translates into a better quality of life.
It’s clear that learning a second language comes with many benefits, from personal to professional. In addition to being immensely helpful, it’s also fun. The sooner you get started learning a new language and the more frequently you use it, the more you’ll enjoy these benefits. So you’re better off getting started immediately and signing up for German classes.