Some of them are born out of simple enjoyment and a deep love of words, others are driven by professional and business motives, and a fair share of them are rooted purely in adaptation and survival. However, there is a common point that everyone seems to agree with, and it’s that learning another language is hard. Really, really hard.
As English has grown into this all-encompassing communication tool that pretty much runs the world nowadays, plenty of folk that never even had the need to communicate in anything other than their local tongue, find themselves facing what can only be described as a monumental task that is learning a completely different set of lyrics for their lives.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, because even if the process is slow and far from easy, all these mental gymnastics we inflict upon our mind to during the endeavor carry a great set of benefits that are hard to dismiss. As they say, the best way to keep the brain active and in top shape is to use it, and learning a language has been proven to be one of the best ways to get it firing on all cylinders.
Every language has a different amount of frequently used words that should be memorized to speak it fluently. As an example, the number of words native English speakers seem to retain goes from around 10.000 words, to a whooping 65.000 and up for the brainiest of Brits.
While it isn’t really expected that any non-native speaker will manage to shove such an amount of lexicon into their nut, learning even a reasonable percentage of these words is a spectacular workout for the areas of the brain that govern our capacity to memorize.
As a plus, it seems like exercising these regions actually increase the physical size of the brain. So if you’re into having a big brain, even if it’s purely for fashion reasons, it’s kind of a win-win.
IMPROVED SELF ESTEEM
Humans are insecure beings by nature, and while at times it can be a valuable tool to avoid making a fool of oneself, at times certain insecurities can also be crippling and detrimental to our mental health.
Learning another language and the extra ability to communicate with other people can have a huge beneficial effect on how capable we perceive ourselves to be. It can open new social opportunities, new friendships, relationships, or career prospects, and all of them engaged in a positive feedback loop that can only end up as a net gain.
The best way to fight insecurity and self-doubt is to prove ourselves that we are capable of overcoming certain challenges. If learning a language wasn’t enough of a success on its own, its added benefits will surely turn it into a resounding one.
DELAYED ALZHEIMER'S ONSET
As people’s life expectancy has climbed during the last decades thanks to significant advancements in medicine and technology, these extra years also appear to carry a hefty price tag. Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia are becoming uncomfortably commonplace as the population ages, and they are a challenge to our healthcare systems, to the families involved, and of course, to the sufferers themselves.
The process that the brain undergoes when learning a language has proven to increase the creation of neural pathways that keep our memories strong, and scientists have found that people who can speak more than one language tend to develop dementia up to five years later than monolingual people.
There are merely three of the multiple benefits that learning a language can bring into our lives. There are also cases being made for increased multitasking, creativity, better decision making, and plenty of other things that will surely pop up as more and more studies move forward.
Oh, and you can also become a translator. A wonderful reason indeed!