10 Reasons Why you Should Speak a Foreign Language

Pascale Chauvot

16 Feb 2016

What are the benefits of speaking a foreign language? Some are obvious but others are not. Read on to discover why you should speak a foreign language.

Communicating in a different language is a gift. Whether we travel for work or pleasure, or stay in our own country, understanding one another without the barrier of language enhances our lives and that of others.

Being bilingual may prevent the onset of dementia by on average, 4.5 years

Benefits of Speaking a Foreign Language

So what then are the some of the benefits of speaking a foreign language?

1. Build Relationships

Speaking a foreign language is like a magic key that opens the door to people’s hearts and minds and adds value to your personal and professional life. By speaking a foreign language you almost invariably establish immediate rapport with others who applaud you for trying to speak their language and view you in a different light.

2. Be Treated with Respect

By speaking the language of the country in which you live, work or holiday in, you are immediately treated with respect and are able to access a completely different level of that society.

3. It Can Save Lives

Let’s not forget – a lack of language and communication skills is one of the greatest contributors to accidents in the workplace. Being able to communicate and assist in times of emergency can make all the difference.

4. Culture Shock: What Culture Shock? 

When on an international assignment or living in another country, speaking the local language can help to ease the inevitable culture shock enabling you and your family to adjust physically, emotionally and psychologically to a new and sometimes confusing environment more quickly.

When you travel or relocate for work, the ability to communicate and establish relations allow you to hit the ground running, saving time and productivity for yourself and your company

5. Have Access to Everything 

In many countries, for example Japan, the ability to communicate in the local language makes it easier, even possible, to rent suitable apartments or houses otherwise not available to foreign nationals.

6. Avoid Alzheimer’s

Research published in Neurology Today shows that being bilingual may prevent the onset of dementia by on average, 4.5 years. Now that’s one of the best reasons to speak a foreign language!

7. Develop your Social and Professional Circles

Particularly when you are away from family and familiar surroundings, loneliness can corrode your social and professional life. Speaking the local language can immeasurably help in meeting people socially. At work, simply being able to listen and understand what the local staff are saying could be of great benefit to you and your organisation.

8. Earn More Money!

Whether it be Spanish or German, research shows that foreign language speakers earn more more money. While the difference may only be 2-10%, this is not to be sniffed at. Over the course of your career this could add up to several hundred thousand pounds, dollars, euros – or whatever currency you prefer!

9. Keep Safe

Speaking a foreign language can help you keep safe when on holiday or working in another country. Knowing what is being said or happening can make a huge difference and help you to make the right decision to seek safety, advice or cover.

10. It Helps to Make Sense of Everything

Language is just one tangible manifestation of another culture. It helps, however, enormously to unlock that culture’s history, politics, art, media, etc. Just being able to understand a newspaper, the news on TV or café talk will help you to make sense of that country in which you are living, working or holidaying.

Too old to learn a foreign language or to get the level of fluency you would like? 

There is no evidence to suggest that adult learners are slower in terms of absorbing new information

It may be true that the younger brain can more easily absorb information. However, an adult has something a child may not have; the motivation and understanding of the need and value of learning something.  According to Anil Biltoo, head of languages at SOAS, University of London, there is no evidence to suggest that adult learners are slower in terms of absorbing new information. Instead, he says the key element to being a successful language learner is motivation.

So now you know why you should speak a foreign language – Let’s get learning and speaking!





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