Learning New Languages Opens New Doors
The United States has no official national language. However, for practical purposes, English has become the lingua franca of the country. In fact, the global influence of the United States become so pervasive that people around the world are encouraged to learn English as a second language to compete in American and European markets. But the power of English backfires when its speakers fail to see the perspective of second languages. Not only does language learning connect people from far corners of the world through enhanced cultural empathy, it’s been proven to supports academic achievement and enhance cognitive ability.
How does learning a language open doors?
It actually makes you smarter.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages researches how higher academic achievement correlates with language learning on standardized tests. For example, in one study, third-grade students from were randomly assigned to receive 30-minute oral-aural Spanish lessons for one semester. Students in the Spanish classes scored significantly higher in math and language on the Metropolitan Achievement Test than the those who did not receive Spanish lessons.
Learning a language awakens you to new cultures.
In another study addressed by the ACTFL, there is a marked correlation between second language learning and increased linguistic awareness. Second languages are complicated, requiring challenging grammatical judgment and a new vocabulary. But when equipped with the framework of conversation from a young age, language learners can access the written language in addition to the spoken language with ease. By understanding the linguistic nuances of a second language, you can dive wholeheartedly into a culture unfamiliar to your own.
It opens your mind.
Getting soaked into an entirely new worldview is the surest way to become an open-minded individual. Once you are aware of the fact that we products of our own environments, environments constructed by language, you recognize the impetus for your own actions and attitude. You are ready to consider others with empathy.
It improves your confidence.
Seeing the world from a different perspective and understanding why you interpret your world they way you do is integral to your growth as an individual. By learning a new language, you learn more about yourself. A study from the University College London shows that learning other languages have been shown to alter grey matter (the area of the brain which processes information) in the same way exercise builds muscles. What better way to build confidence than through actively practicing the joy of conversation and reading in a new language? You become capable to fearlessly travel to places you never would have dared to visit before. You engage in conversations with strangers. By learning a new language, you’re able to to overcome fears and doubts.