Are Americans Missing Out on Benefits of Learning Foreign Language?

Why Aren't Most Americans Bilingual?
Why Aren't Most Americans Bilingual?

Americans Are Missing Out On The Benefits of Learning Foreign Language

The many cognitive advantages of learning languages are indisputable. People who speak more than one language have advanced memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, capacity to multitask, and more careful listening skills.

In the United States of America (USA), many people insist that anyone who does not speak English should learn to speak English. English is an essential language for anyone to learn, regardless of whether one lives in the USA or any other part of the world. However, those who speak English as their first language and only speak English should be aware that by insisting that everyone else learn to speak English and refusing to attempt to learn another language, they miss out on the benefits of learning a foreign language.

Boosting the Brain

One of the most important benefits of learning a foreign language is that it helps to improve brainpower. Dr. Mercola informs us in one of his blog entries that researchers have determined that cognitively stimulating activities are associated with slower cognitive decline later in life. Various activities can help boost brain function. Games that challenge the brain, reading, writing, and learning a new language.

Learning a new language creates new neural pathways in the brain. The rules and meanings learned when studying a new language are very complex, providing an excellent method of building extensive neural pathways. With more neural pathways, one would experience an increased ability to retrieve memories and retrieve them faster. The mind becomes more alert and more perceptive. On a related note, researchers have determined that adults who speak more than one language are more likely to defer the onset of Alzheimer’s than adults who only speak one language.

Improving the Mother Tongue

Usually, when a person speaks English as a native language speaks, the language is spoken without giving much thought to how sentences are formed or what vocabulary is used. As one studies a new language, one is exposed to a whole new language structure and vocabulary system. This naturally causes one to contrast and compare the language structure to one’s mother tongue. Sometimes it is noticed that there are words similar to one’s mother tongue, and other times it is noticed that words that appear similar mean something totally different. This comparing and contrasting results in a better understanding of the mother tongue. Therefore, learning a foreign language can help one improve his or her mother tongue.

Becoming More Open-minded

The language that one uses is directly related to the way one thinks. For example, in English, one might say that Bob broke the phone. In thinking this way, one places more emphasis on the ‘who’ than on the ‘what.’ One is left with a negative feeling towards Bob for breaking the phone. However, in Spanish, it would usually be said that the phone broke. Bob is left out of the picture, and the fault is left with the phone. Understanding this helps to understand the way other language speakers think. It also helps improve one’s ability to be open-minded, not only towards other cultures but also to people in general. One learns to recognize and accept points of view that might not have been considered before.

How does being open-minded help? Being open-minded means free to think with complete control of the thoughts without being encapsulated in what a closed mind would consider the norm. With the mindset free, the mind can be more creative. It also allows one to find solace in recognizing that no one knows everything. Since no one knows everything, it is acceptable to make mistakes. Therefore, being open-minded helps one to live a life with less stress.

Related: Train Yourself To Become More Open-Minded

Expanding Career Potentials

It seems that there are more jobs available to multilingual people these days. With so much competition in the job market, one way to reduce the competition for jobs is learning a new language. This is not something that can be done overnight, but eventually. One can get to the point where the new skill can help put food on the table.

Speaking another language expands opportunities because of the ability, but it also tells the employer that the individual is intelligent and open to diverse people. In today’s business world, this is very important. Businesses today need to be able to cross-cultural and language barriers to staying on top. Speaking another language makes one stand out above the rest on a job application or résumé.

Wrapping it Up

As indicated at the beginning of this article, many Americans only speak English and refuse to learn another language. By refusing to learn at least one other language, monolingual speakers miss out on the benefits of speaking multiple languages. Monolingual speakers are missing the opportunity to improve cognitive ability through language learning. They are missing the opportunity to improve their own use of their own language. They are missing the opportunity that language learning provides for being more open-minded and freer from stress. And, finally, they are missing out on potential job opportunities.

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