Students who study foreign languages tend to score better on standardised tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of maths, reading, and vocabulary.
You build multitasking skills
Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech, writing, and structure. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. In one study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time. The research found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving.
You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia
Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.
Your memory improves
Educators often liken the brain to a muscle, because it functions better with exercise. Learning a language involves memorising rules and vocabulary, which helps strengthen that mental “muscle.” This exercise improves overall memory, which means that multiple language speakers are better at remembering lists or sequences. Studies show that bilinguals are better at retaining shopping lists, names, and directions.
You become more perceptive
A study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They are more adept at focusing on relevant information and editing out the irrelevant. They’re also better at spotting misleading information. Is it any surprise that Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are skilled polyglots?
Your decision-making skills improve
According to a study from the University of Chicago, bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions. Any language contains nuance and subtle implications in its vocabulary, and these biases can subconsciously influence your judgment. Bilinguals are more confident with their choices after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up.
You improve your English
Learning a foreign language draws your focus to the mechanics of language: grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. This makes you more aware of language, and the ways it can be structured and manipulated. These skills can make you a more effective communicator and a sharper editor and writer. Language speakers also develop a better ear for listening, since they’re skilled at distinguishing meaning from discreet sounds.
Anne Merritt is an EFL lecturer currently based in South Korea. She writes at http://annemerritt.com/
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The Importance of Learning Foreign Languages Essay
1216 Words5 Pages
Language is a key part of any family, community, culture and the human race. Without language the world today would be much different. From cavemen, to the Egyptian use of hieroglyphics, to Old English, to more than 6,500 languages spoken around the world today, the advances that humans have made in language is remarkable and inspiring. The ability to speak, read, write and understand more than one language is also remarkable and expands the liberties in life, especially for young people. High school students should be required to take at least two years of a foreign language class in order to graduate, as many recent studies support the benefits of doing so. Students who have learned a foreign language in high school have proven to have a…show more content…
Requiring two years of foreign language study for high school graduation would benefit students greatly as they move onto college. Acceptance rate, ability to succeed in and graduation rate would increase greatly if all college students were bilingual. Some students would argue that taking a foreign language class in high school would not benefit them after graduation, as they plan to study a major in which being multilingual is not essential. This may seem reasonable as some majors, such as cosmetology or psychology may not ever use a foreign language nor require further study of a foreign language. However, studies have shown that studying a foreign language builds more skills than just language. Memorization, critical thinking and interpretation skills improve immensely in those students who take a foreign language class in high school (“Benefits and Opportunities” 1). Students can then use these skills to improve academic performance in other areas, improving overall college success. Globalization has recently reached the corporate world, and seemed to be instantaneous. Around 40 percent of large U.S. companies have reached overseas, allowing them to profit from the markets of foreign countries. Due to the rapid increase of companies becoming multinational, major businesses seek to hire employees who are able to speak more than one language, as multilingual candidates are equipped