On January 24, 2020 I was watching a video on someone’s progress learning Italian, and I was resonating with EVERYTHING they were saying. Not because I am currently learning Italian as well, but because the way they explained the importance of learning a new language was something I have been preaching for at least the last 5 years, if not more, and continue to preach today.
A lot of people, especially English speakers (particularly Americans) get caught up in the idea that English is the International Language, especially in business, so even if they want to learn a new language it falls to the bottom of their priority lists because there are just too many other important things that need their attention at that time.
There are more than a few problems with this mindset, but the most vital one is that there will never be a good time to learn a second language. I suppose, unless you are thrown out of your country or are forced to migrate due to war or some other compelling negative force. However, even then, people have found ways to avoid learning the local language of their new home. So if you have the desire or need to learn another language, the best time to start is always now.
On that note, here are a few points to answer the question of why you should learn a new language:
- Opportunity- Learning a new language opens doors and opportunities in your life that you may or may not expect. Language is a skill you can not only add to your resume, which employers find valuable, but it also opens you up to a new culture or world of friends, connections and way of life. (When you tell someone you know a language, and they do too, there is an instant magical connection that happens! If you haven’t experienced this before, you have to trust me on this one.)
- Perspective- Piggybacking off of the first point, learning a second language broadens your perspective. Even learning the way a language is structured will teach you something about how the people who use that language see the world. It’s like adjusting the lense of a camera. Even though you are technically still looking at the exact same area or object, when your focus changes, your perspective and what you feel or get out of the photograph changes too because you are looking at it from a different angle.
- Brain Health- Language learning is a skill, and with any skill it can take a lifetime to master. That doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to hold full conversations, but what it does mean is that you are never done learning it. Just like exercise, you must keep doing it, and as you do, you learn new things, grow and make progress— therefore making your muscles stronger. Learning a new skill works in the same way, in that makes your brain stronger. The more you do it, the more perspective you gain and new ways to not only see a situation, but a stronger capacity to problem solve and cultivate mental clarity in any situation (because you are keeping your brain young and sharp).
Why do you want to learn a second language?