I have always been fascinated by languages. Think about it- a mere combination of just 26 alphabets helps us to manifest, express and communicate our thoughts, feelings and opinions. Besides, that is just one language. Now imagine there being more than 6500 languages. In other words, 6500 unique ways in which we can communicate the same message. Spellbinding, isn’t it? Having the power to articulate each and every word in more than one way, in more than one language is what intrigues me, and this was why I delved into the sublime world of languages.
Being a bilingual or multilingual has its own benefits. The foremost being the ability to communicate to a multitude of people. Well, not just communicate, but also, connect.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Ever wonder why we tend to speak or rather switch to our mother tongue when we are being hysterical? That’s because we tend to express ourselves the best in our native language. For this reason, learning a second language helps us to communicate as well as connect with people in their first language, making the conversations more convivial and the discussions more profound.
I am also of the opinion that the more languages we know, the better we enunciate. This, according to me, is because of two reasons. Firstly, we are likely to stumble upon new words and expressions while learning a new language, hence expanding our lexicon of both the languages. Secondly, we are likely to get acquainted with certain words which are untranslatable in our native language (for instance, déjà vu), thus aiding us to convey our ideas more effectively.
Second-language acquisition proves to have enduring effects on our personality as well (it certainly did have on mine). It not only makes us more expressive, but also pertinent and more self-confident. We are also likely to become more patient, dedicated and persistent in the course of learning a new language. Furthermore, it is proven that the linguistic differences between two languages help us to develop a new perspective, thus giving us an alternative vision of the world (if you wish to know how, watch this video).
“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.”
Language learning also allows us to enjoy the works of art in their original versions. Therefore, learning another language additionally implies being able to relish not only the movies, songs, books or poems, but also the series, quotes, jokes or even memes of that language in their authentic forms, without having to face the language barrier (Trust me, I have never been happier than while reading “The Little Prince” in French). Because, let’s face it, the essence of a word is lost in translation, perhaps due to the fact that we are subjected to the translator’s understanding of the idea and not the artist’s.
Further, in the course of learning a new language, we are unreservedly exposed to the culture of the people speaking that language. This might be either through the didactic materials via which we are learning the language or through the works of art mentioned before. Moreover, it is quite possible to have friends who are native speakers of that language (by means of travel, pen pals, exchange programs or educational visits to the host country, to name a few). This, I speak from experience here, helps us significantly to familiarize ourselves with several social and cultural aspects, consequently giving us a genuine and non-stereotypical insight of their culture and lifestyle. And this is why my exchange program and chats with French correspondents give me a much deeper understanding of the French culture than any movie or book could ever give.
I personally believe that the aforesaid merits are the overriding benefits of language learning. However, there’s more to it. There are numerous other advantages which are commonly known to all, and have therefore not been elaborated upon. These include the various cognitive, health, professional and economic benefits which are briefly summarized in the infographic given below.
Thus, as can be inferred, there are innumerable ways in which learning a new language pays you. And I, as a multilingual, encourage you to not give language learning a second thought, because whatever be the motive, personal or professional, I assure you that it will definitely change your life for the better, as it certainly did change mine.
PS: Let me know in the comments below your perspective on language learning, and its perks and effects on your life!