While you can advance in the current business and social environment speaking just one language, people that have foreign language skills definitely have more advantages. According to physiological studies the cognitive process of people that speak two or more languages is better. Likewise the brains of multilingual people operate differently, which provides distinct benefits to mental health.
While you may not reap the full benefits of being bilingual or multilingual if you haven’t practiced it for a long time, you can still get that back as soon as you start speaking in a different language again. Even people who begin their language study when they are already adults can also achieve the level of fluency like that of a young learner and take advantage of the mental benefits it brings.
- You become smarter. When you are multilingual your brain functionality is constantly challenged, thus it is able to communicate, recognize and negotiate meanings in dissimilar language systems particularly in areas of problem-solving. Foreign language students score better on standard tests especially in vocabulary, reading and maths.
- You become a multitasker. Multilingual speakers, including children become skilled at switching between two methods of structure, writing and speech. It makes them better multitaskers and are able to juggle between different structures.
- You keep dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay. There were already several studies made on the correlation of speaking different languages and onset of dementia. Those who are monolingual are likely to show signs of dementia at age 71 while the mean age for those who are multilingual is around 75.5 years. The studies that were conducted considered several factors, including physical health, gender, income level and education level and they got consistent results.
- You improve your memory. The brain is comparable to a muscle that functions better when it gets exercise. Language learning strengthens the brain though the vocabulary building and memorizing rules of a new language. This mental exercise improves a person’s overall memory, which means that multilingual speakers become better at remembering things.
- You improve your perception. The University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain conducted a study, which revealed that multilingual speakers observe their surroundings better. They have the ability to focus on what is important and set aside those that are not relevant. They can easily spot misleading information.
- You improves your decision-making skills. In a study conducted by the University of Chicago, they found out that people speaking several languages make rational decisions and are more confident. The study results revealed that their confidence and decision-making are affected by the biases, nuances and implications of the vocabulary of the languages they speak, as they tend to think in several languages as well.
- You improves your communication skills. Since learning a foreign language makes you focus on grammar, sentence structure and conjugations, it makes you better in speaking your mother tongue as well. You will be able to speak and communicate better and you will develop better listening skills.
- You get to have better job opportunities. Last year CNN Money rated foreign language fluency as the hottest skill for job seekers. Multinational companies today not only rely on employees that are native speakers of any language, they are looking for job applicants that are fluent in other languages, which is highly beneficial in today’s business setting.
As a foreign language speaker, you will be able to bring new experiences and perspectives to your team. The team gets exposed to new vocabulary, new cultures and diverse outlooks that can trigger more creative outputs.
It’s a win-win situation.
Bernardine Racoma writes for Day Translations, a global translations and interpreting services provider with headquarters in Tampa, Florida, US, and offices worldwide. Its dedicated team of specialized and trained certified translators and interpreters are available 24/7 around the world to satisfy their customers’ translation and interpreting needs. Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter.