How often do you hear yourself lament that you wish you knew another language, or that you had taken advantage of the opportunity to learn back in your school days? I know that I say it almost every time I travel to a foreign country, and probably more often than that if I’m honest! But, I hear you say, it’s just too hard!
And I agree – where do you even start? Well, I’ve looked into the benefits of learning a foreign language and, now, I’m resolved to learn!
See below for the top 5 reasons to learn a foreign language – maybe this will inspire you to join me!
1. Workout your brain
We all know that we need to exercise to keep our body fit and healthy, but we don’t often think about doing the same for our brains! Just like the rest of our body, our brain is a muscle that needs worked out on a regular basis. Learning a language is a great way to stretch a part of the brain that we don’t use very often. Exercising your brain such as this can add up to 5 years onto your lifespan, as well as staving off Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The myriad benefits are, quite frankly, unbelievable! Speaking 2 or more languages improves the analytical and problem solving side of your brain, meaning you make better decisions, as well as increasing your memory capacity. This means you’re more likely to remember what’s on your shopping list!
2. Enrich your travel experiences
Knowing the language when travelling a foreign country is a bonus in so many ways! It means you’ll be able to know precisely what you’re ordering for dinner, and ask for directions. And we all know there’s nothing more authentic than going where the locals go when you’re travelling – and being able to speak the language means you’ll be able to ask where that is. So your language lessons will allow you to discover so much more than the typical tourist sights!
Not only this, but you’ll gain the opportunity to develop friendships you would never have the chance to otherwise! Sure, you might get by in English chatting to the people you meet on your travels, but speaking the same language will help you form deeper friendships with locals. This will both enrich your travels and your life – and give you a good excuse to come back on holiday another time!
3. Increase your cultural understanding
A language does truly reflect a culture – this is why so many jokes and proverbs don’t really translate with the same wit and wisdom! Take a commonly used English phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs” for example. The Italians say piove a catinelle – “It’s raining basins”, while the Spanish say llover a cántaros – “It’s raining pitchers”. Learning these little quirks will really connect you with the culture as you grow to understand why particular words are used and how phrases have been created. Learning another language will also allow you to enjoy international literature, films, music and art, expanding your worldview and letting you connect to people all around the world.
Understanding other cultures also helps you to understand your own culture more – exploring the differences between your culture and someone else’s gives you an idea of how things can be done differently. You may even find that you prefer certain aspects of the Italian culture, for example, and choose to incorporate them in your own life – again, enriching your own lifestyle!
4. Improve your English
Wait, what? I promise I’ve not made a mistake – learning another language actually increases your understanding of English!
When you learn your native language as an infant, you learn from hearing it spoken around you. No one sits you down and teaches you the rules when you first learn how to speak English. Of course, you learn “i before e except after c” once you get to school, but there’s no conversation to be had around the conjugation of verbs! Learning how to properly structure a sentence in another language really gets you thinking about how you structure your sentences in English, and brings your attention to the ways in which you can manipulate the English language. This will make you a better communicator, in both the written and verbal arenas!
5. Build your confidence
Fear of public speaking is such a common phobia that it’s almost more strange to not be afraid of it! With your newfound multilingual skills, however, your communication abilities will skyrocket and the fear will be gone! And this doesn’t just apply to public speaking – successfully learning a new skill will give you the confidence to learn other skills. Do you love art and wish you could be more involved? Shed your inhibitions and learn to paint! Your newfound confidence means that you’ll never be held back from trying any new skill!
Not only will you become more confident in your day-to-day life, but learning a language will inspire you to travel more and explore more of the world around you. You’ll be able to read the street signs and ask for directions, you’ll understand the mannerisms and know the faux pas of the country. Before you know it, you’ll be bilingual, well-travelled and cultured beyond belief.
I’ve certainly managed to convince myself to try a new language, and I hope you’re feeling just as emboldened as I am! Why not truly immerse yourself and come to Italy with Flavours for an Italian language holiday? You’ll be inspired by the culture, scenery and fabulous conversation, I’m sure!