The Benefits of Learning a Second Language

A Healthier Michigan

| 3 min read

Learning another language will open new doors for you in your personal life, professional life, and social life. It turns out there are multiple health benefits to learning a new language at any age. Learning a new language is a great way to focus on personal growth, stimulate your mind and your senses, and introduce you to new people and new possibilities.

6 benefits of learning a second language

The benefits of learning a second language are not limited to brain health or employability, although those are commonly celebrated benefits. There are benefits to learners’ mental health, neurological health, global citizenship, self-image, social life, and more. More people on the earth are bilingual than are not, so why not add another language to your life? Here are six benefits seen from learning a second language.

1. Learning a language is good for your brain and improves cognitive function

According to a 2021 study, learning a second language can help improve episodic memory, maintain neurological health longer, and improve brain interconnectivity and attentional switching, or the ability to maintain focus while switching attention. Learning a second language also increases brain matter and neuron activity in the brain.

2. Learning a different language challenges biases or assumptions and increases empathy

Learning a new language can help to increase your empathy and your courage to interact with the world and people around you. According to a 2020 study, learning languages and emotional intelligence are correlated.

3. It introduces you to people you otherwise wouldn’t meet

Speaking in a new language will introduce you to other learners, as well as fluent native speakers, and bring new people into your life that you wouldn’t have likely met otherwise. Meeting new people who speak differently, or come from other cultures, is a great benefit and opportunity of learning a new language.

4. A second language can make you more employable or advance your career

Multilingual and bilingual students regularly score higher on school exams and have better marks in secondary education overall since 2003, according to a 2018 study. Multilingual workers also earn 19% more on average than single-language workers, according to Forbes. Additionally, 40% of multilingual or bilingual workers say their language skills helped them to get their job.

5. Once you learn a second language, other languages are easier to learn

Learning a new language makes each additional language easier to learn more quickly. Even being surrounded by more than one language but not being fluent can help to increase language-learning skills, according to a 2019 study in Brain and Language. Hearing or better knowing another language makes your brain more likely to pick up on new sounds and noises and be able to identify them more easily.

6. A second language improves listening and memory skills

Learning a second language can help with memory skills, especially episodic memory, or memories of past instances or events. Although response speed was not improved among bilingual speakers, overall recall accuracy and ability is improved among bilingual speakers and multilingual speakers over speakers of one language, according to a study in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology. Some sections of the brain that are vital to language learning are also involved in the storage and recollection of memories, according to a 2018 study.

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