People who speak at least two languages seem to have more than those who do not. Of course there are exceptions, but there is something about someone who is bilingual that just seems so much cooler than people who are monolingual.
The thing is that you can also be bilingual as long as you are willing to put the time into learning. Roughly half of the world’s population is multilingual, which means that there are a large number of people who only know their native tongue
If you need a little push to become part of the multilingual half of the world, here are eight benefits that bilingual speakers have over their monolingual counter parts.
The Social Advantages of Knowing More Than One Language
Whether you like talking to people or you just enjoy the company of others, being bilingual significantly increases the number of people with whom you can communicate. Even if you learn a language that has a much smaller population of native speakers, you can still communicate with a much larger group of people.
Being able to speak a second language also helps you to be better at communication in general. You’ve gone through the process of understanding how another language works and that gives you insight into how native speakers tend to think.
It is also highly likely that you are a significantly better listener. You have learned to work through the nuances and expressions that are very different from your first language, which gives you clues on how to listen more efficiently. It is only natural that this will spill into your normal listening skills.
Ultimately, you are likely to be better able to write and read in your own language as well. You become more analytical and selective of your own word choices. This makes you better at overall communication.
Nor do you have to wait until you are fluent in your second language to start reaping these benefits. They happen naturally as you start to reconsider your language in a new light.
To increase the rate at which you learn to communicate, find a language partner. Language partners can give you a one on one approach that is specific to your needs, and you can reciprocate as you help your partner learn your language. The personal approach to communication is one of the best ways to get the most from this bilingual benefit.
The Advantages Are Not Restricted by Age Group
Anyone can reap the benefits of being bilingual. It doesn't matter if you want your two-year old to learn a language or if you are 72 and thinking about learning a new language. Everyone benefits from knowing multiple languages.
Children who learn a second language have a lot of fantastic benefits they can reap.
- Their ability to learn their own language is accelerated, as are social and cognitive skills. Many of them are also better able to manage their emotions as they learn new perspectives from a young age.
- Children who speak two languages are more culturally accepting, a distinct advantage with globalization.
- Many bilingual children are better able to focus.
If you are trying to learn a language, a child who already knows the language is actually a great teacher.
An adult who learns a new language may have a slightly harder time making it through the learning process, but it also shows determination and a strong desire to follow through. There is also the added benefit of being better at your job and personal relationships as a result of knowing another language (even if the people around you do not speak your second language).
One of the best benefits for learning a new language as a senior is that it helps to keep your mind sharp. You have the time to dedicate to learning, and it keeps you from feeling like your time is wasted. There is also evidence that suggests being bilingual in your later years comes with the health benefit of reducing your risk of mentally deteriorating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Business Owner Advantages
If you own a business, being bilingual comes with a lot of benefits, both obvious and surprising.
- Knowing another language expands your networking opportunities. Even if you aren’t able to offer services and goods to a country where your second language is spoken, you can work with people in your area who do speak it.
- Your problem solving skills are significantly improved, helping you come up with new ways to market, as well as to resolve issues. Much of this comes from learning a second language and the new perspectives it teaches you.
- People tend to be more impressed with you, particularly your employees. This is incredibly beneficial since they will be more likely to respect you and be loyal to the business. Of course you will need to treat them well, but the other benefits will help here too, because you are better able to communicate.
Most businesses will hire someone who is bilingual over a monolingual applicant, even if the bilingual speaker does not know a language that is common. There is always the chance that a native speaker of the bilingual’s second language will need assistance, and the company will have that aspect covered.
While it would seem obvious that learning another language gives you an advantage, there are still far too few people actually learning languages like Spanish and Mandarin. If you learn one of these languages, you will have a distinct advantage over the other job applicants.
The Traveler Advantage
If you are the kind of person who loves to travel, this benefit can be huge. If you speak the language, you will enjoy your travels that much more because you will be able to understand the perspective of native speakers, as well as extra tidbits from the tour guides. It also helps to make your travels a lot less stressful as you won’t have to worry about being able to communicate. You will be able to get around much easier than if you rely on planning and technology. Simply stop and ask for help if you are lost.
Knowing the language makes you more independent, which in turn can make the entire trip much more enjoyable. You don’t have to be fluent for any of these benefits to be true either. As long as you can manage a basic conversation, native speakers will be pleased to assist. There is nothing like showing an interest in someone and their culture to make them open up and talk.
Perhaps the most interesting perk is that you will probably end up spending less during your travels. You will be able to negotiate and find less costly places to eat and rest.
The Intelligence Advantage
When given the same test, bilinguals almost always perform better than monolinguals, particularly tests that deal with spatial memory. The tests indicate that knowing a second language means altering the way your brain works. This could be because your brain must work in completely different ways when accessing a different language, which in turn boosts your ability to answer questions.
The more you exercise your brain, the better you can perform. Knowing and using a second language achieves this in more than one way.
You have no doubt heard stories about people who were able to step in and assist others in another language. Or perhaps you have seen others be able to get a joke told in another language.
One of the most enjoyable things about being bilingual is that you are able to get more out of your daily routine, even without trying. When I first learned German, I was shocked at just how much German I actually heard in movies and traveling around the city. I had not noticed it before because I had learned to tune out other languages. Suddenly, I was getting a little more out of my daily routine.
Then there is how much it can expand what you can watch and enjoy. Websites like Netflix and Hulu give you a lot of foreign films, but sometimes you want something a little less mainstream. If you are bilingual, you don’t have to wait until a provider gets around to offering what you want to watch. You can find your own shows and movies.
There is something incredibly rewarding about being able to help someone. There is something even more amazing about being able to help someone who speaks a different language. You are able to perform a task that very few others can do because you speak another language.
Not all advantages to being bilingual are about you. Sometimes it is about what you can give over what you can get out of what you know. If you are able to step up and help someone, knowing that you made someone’s life a little bit better is a reward all on its own.
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