Today we’re going to talk about some of the positive benefits there are to learning multiple languages. There are many beautiful languages out there, with at least 7,000 spoken around the world. Some of the most widely spoken are: English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Russian, French, and German. You might not be surprised to know that at least half of the world’s population are bilingual - but wouldn’t you like to be one of them?


By becoming one of the 50 percent of bilingual people who can speak another language, you give yourself a competitive advantage the rest don’t have, and open doors both socially and culturally.


Of those 50 percent of bilingual people around the world, not all are bilingual in the same way. To shed some light on bilingualism, here are three definitions:


  • Compound Bilingual - Develops two linguistic codes simultaneously with a single set of concepts.
  • Coordinate Bilingual - Develops by working with two sets of concepts. For example, learning English at school but speaking Spanish outside of school.
  • Subordinate Bilingual - Develops their secondary language by filtering it through their primary language.


Sadly, in the UK, languages have not always been a priority and by making languages optional at school, there has been a 40% decrease in language speakers, with young people choosing to drop a language from their timetable.


Learning to speak in multiple languages, opens a whole new world of like-minded people in different countries, who can introduce you to new situations and experiences. As well as this, there are clear cognitive benefits to learning a new language and we’ll be looking at this first.



Cognitive advantages of language learning


Cognitive processes are greatly enhanced once you’ve picked up a new language. Those who study bilingualism have discovered that people’s brains operate in a different way once they’ve mastered a new language, and this can have many benefits. Regardless of whether you’re young or old, you can gain the advantages that come with learning a new language and reap the benefits for years to come.


Better brain function - Learning a new language can make you smarter, because studies have shown that brains function better and communication skills are far more sophisticated, as well as being able solve problems much quicker.


Better multi-tasking - In addition to advanced abilities in problem solving, you’ll also acquire better multi-tasking skills, making juggling different tasks at the same time easier to master. As well as this, it was discovered that those who spoke a foreign language could do particularly well in reading, vocabulary, and maths.


Postpone dementia and Alzheimer’s - In addition to improving multitasking and improving your reading and maths abilities, speaking another language can stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Yes, there have been enough studies which prove conclusively that adults who speak more than one language were able to hold off both illnesses by at least 4 and a half years.


Memory skills also improve - Because as you exercise your brain, your cognitive skills improve exponentially. Thus making lists and directions much easier to remember and follow. You gain a better perspective, taking note of your surroundings and ignoring the trivial, and you’ll also find your decision-making skills improve too.



Improve your life socially with a new language


Socially, there are many good reasons to learn multiple languages too, more than just being able to make new friends as you practice your language skills, you’ll find your world becoming much bigger. Depending on which language you’ve chosen to learn, it should open doors to more than one country where it can be spoken, thus introducing you to new worlds and new ideas.


Improve your career prospects - You’ll also find that there are many more jobs you can apply for, all over the world, which were closed to you before, so your career prospects are greatly improved. It’ll give you that competitive edge so you can spread your wings -- to see and experience some of the world. You may be working for someone who’s expanding into an overseas market, and if this is the case, they’ll be looking for bilingual staff. If you’re successful, you could be in a better paid job within your own company and receive more benefits than you did in your previous position. By learning a second language, you add more skills to your CV and make yourself indispensable to your company, bridging cultural gaps between different countries.



Cultural gains and new horizons


Culturally, this is probably something you may find the most rewarding. The world is full of the most rich and fascinating cultures and when you're learning multiple languages, you get to discover them. You’ll get to see beautiful new things as well as experiment with exciting new cuisine, speak to new and interesting people who think in a different way and live differently to you. You’ll be able to explore their history, style, literature and music; and because you chose to speak their language, you can explore all these things through their books, TV, and music. You’ll not only broaden your interests but your horizons too. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored and by learning a new language, you’ll get to unlock its secrets.



Let italki take you on a journey towards proficiency in any language of your choice


italki has a vast selection of professional teachers and community tutors in any language so you can open those social, cultural doors into a better life. You can learn at your own pace, and online. Unlike with group classes, where as an adult you may feel a little self-conscious making mistakes in front of a group of people, with one-to-one you get to learn with someone who will work with you through those pain barriers. A teacher who will come to understand your weaknesses and strengths and help you to become proficient and more confident in your chosen language.


Ready to join all those billions of language speakers? - If you feel you’re ready to cross over to join the billions of people out there living through the medium of more than one language then why not join us? If you’d like to be introduced to another way of life, and be introduced to cultures different to your own, then get in touch. You can improve your mind and your social life, and you’ll be joining millions of others who enjoy speaking and living with another language.





Hero image by Luca Bravo on Unsplash