The Benefits of a Second Language

Most often, learning a second language is easiest as a child, especially when one parent or both speak a second language.

"thank you note for every language" by woodleywonderworks is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Most often, learning a second language is easiest as a child, especially when one parent or both speak a second language.

Whitney Holland, Contributor

Travelling to a new country can always be fun, but one thing that makes a trip less enjoyable is the language barrier. When travelling to places that speak different languages, it is difficult sometimes to be able to communicate with the people there in order to get what you need.

But what if you were bi-literate? Would it make travelling easier and more enjoyable?

Researchers have found that it is actually good for people to learn more than one language and have found that it is especially beneficial in young children.

In a recent study, it was found that over 20%, or roughly about 6.3 million Americans, are bilingual, almost all of which include English as one of the two.

English is seen as the lingua franca, or the common language of the world, but that doesn’t mean that people everywhere will know how to speak it. In our world today, the top languages spoken include Mandarin Chinese with over one billion speakers and native in three countries, Hindi with 490 million speakers and native in two countries, and Spanish with 420 million speakers and native in 22 countries to name a few. Because of this, it would be beneficial to know more than your native language.

Along with being able to communicate with others and make travel easier, being bilingual has many benefits. Knowing two languages can increase your brain power, improve your competitiveness in the job market, and can help you stay mentally stronger.

People that are bilingual have found that their ability to multitask, solve problems, and think out of the box are increased. Being able to speak more than one language makes you more competitive when applying for jobs because you are more able to communicate with a larger group of people, making you more valuable to companies.

Children have also been seen benefiting from learning a second language while they are young. At this age their brains are still developing, making kids actually be able to learn the languages faster and have it “stick” longer than an adult. Boosting a child’s academic achievement and giving the child a head start are among other benefits of teaching them two languages.

Luckily, many people in the world share the desire to learn another language. There are many resources available to help you learn a language, stick with it, and become literate. Many options are free and have reminders that you can set to ensure that you are practicing every day.

Some of the best options include Duolingo (any language), lirica (Spanish and English), and Babbel (any language) to name a few.

Whether you are learning a language to travel somewhere or trying to increase your job potential, becoming bilingual is a valuable skill that will benefit you for years to come.