Recent research proves that despite the technological advances making it less than necessary to learn different languages, doing so anyway can be beneficial to your brain, and your overall happiness.
Benefits of learning new languages
1. Improves the memory and the ability to learn
Studies show that being able to speak two or more languages is greatly beneficial to cognition and ability to learn in general. Bilingual people think differently than monolingual people, and the bilingual brain has some advantages. The benefits are greater when multiple languages are spoken more frequently, so just learning a language isn’t enough – you also have to practice!
2. Boost brain power
Learning and speaking an additional language actually makes you more intelligent. Speaking an additional language challenges your brain to recognize terms and assign meaning to those terms in order to communicate in different codes. Much like a computer can be trained to read and understand html code or python script depending on the program it is running; those computational models were built based on mimicking the human brain.
3. Improves confidence
Once you´ve decided to learn a language, you will notice how quickly your confidence grows. Your progress will encourage your motivation to continue learning, and you will certainly be applauded by your friends and colleagues as you improve. When you practice your additional language with native speakers, you will also enjoy a boost of confidence as you realize the new world you are now able to enter with minimal effort.
4. Make more rational decisions in a non-native language
According to a study performed by University of Chicago, researchers found that people make more rational decisions when they think a problem through in a non-native tongue. Asymmetry in decision-making happens when the same choice is framed as either a gain or a loss, and that paradigm is shifted when thinking in a foreign language.
“A foreign language provides a distancing mechanism that moves people from the immediate intuitive system to a more deliberate mode of thinking”
Says Boaz Keyser, an expert on communication. The Professor of psychology at the University of Chicago worked on the study, titled “The Foreign Language Effect: Thinking in a Foreign Tongue Reduces Decision Biases,” which tested native English speakers who had gained Spanish proficiency in order to see how loss aversion influenced their decision making.
People naturally tend to be loss averse, but this study shows that through the acquisition of an additional language, the tendency to avoid risk can be minimized those allowing us to take on more positive choices that may be slightly risky. Because foreign languages tend to have less of an emotional resonance than a native language does, one’s ability to assess a problem or decision in a foreign language creates a buffer that allows for a more objective assessment of the situation. By removing emotion from the language affecting any decision making, we essentially become more rational.
The results of the study were replicable across cultures through a series of experiments in Korea, France and the United States. The results of the study suggest that acquiring an additional language could be particularly beneficial when it comes to financial decision making. The research team is continuing to investigate the role of emotions in decision making situations in order to draw concrete conclusions to provide financial advice.
Learning another language has loads of benefits. You’ll keep your brain trained, nimble, and be able to think in paradigms that allow for better decision making, improved confidence, and overall happiness. The access to a new world of literature, music, and film, as well as culture, that new language acquisition allows for is invaluable. Linguistic diversity is increasingly important in our globalized world, and as communication experts we are here to encourage you to continue studying and improve your ability to speak, understand, and read additional languages. It will always benefit your personal and professional experience.
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