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How Bilingualism Can Change Your Life for the Better

More than 43% of the world population is able to speak two (or more) languages. These people enjoy many advantages that are associated with being bilingual. This article lists some of these benefits and will hopefully get you in the mood to learn a new language.

Give Your Brain a Boost

The most significant benefit that comes from learning a new language is that your mental health will thank you for it. Studies show that being able to speak two or more languages can slow down cognitive aging, meaning that the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s can be delayed by a maximum of four years. It doesn’t only keep us mentally fit, it’s also a fact that bilinguals are more likely to stay focused on their tasks, as opposed to monolinguals. Irrelevant information becomes easier to tune out, and quickly switching between tasks is something they have to do on a daily basis. Multitasking is a valuable skill that can benefit the brain in the long run. This is due to the many different structures in languages — such as how words are formed and the sound of words — and the fact that when you speak multiple languages you are consciously shifting between these various structures.

Your brain is like a muscle, and training it by memorizing vocabulary and grammar will help strengthen it. As a result, your memory improves significantly, and you might even become better at remembering your shopping lists.

It Pays to Be Bilingual

Another valuable effect of speaking two or more languages is that it’ll give you a considerable advantage in the job market. Finding a job can be a tough task, and for many positions the number of applicants is high. Additional qualifications will therefore help to increase your chance of getting hired.  By being able to speak a second language, you show your future employer that you have linguistic abilities which benefit the company. In fast growing fields like tourism, healthcare, and national security the requirement of a second language is becoming more and more important.

Whether companies want to acquire a larger market share or  do business overseas, employers are more often than not willing to pay more for bilingual positions. Studies show that bilingual workers get payed 5–20% more than workers who only speak their mother tongue. 

Establish a Network with Your Language Skills

You can also use your language skills to expand your private or professional network. Traveling will become easier if you can communicate in different languages. If you speak French and visit the country of wine and cheese, for example, you are able to do more than just ask for a baguette cuite or l’addition.

Especially when your travels are work-related, your language skills allow you to properly communicate with locals and establish an international network. Without the language barrier, you can fully do your job in the country that you’re visiting. 

Want an Open Mind? Learn a Language

Many studies show that people with a bilingual background are more aware of other cultures. Learning a language goes hand in hand with learning about the culture of that specific country, and this often helps in making important decisions. You can identify different perspectives when approaching a problem, and you’re more understanding of other perspectives when working in an international team. In a business environment, it’s important to know the etiquette of that specific country. For example, the way of introducing yourself and shaking hands can differ from what you’re used to. Bilinguals often pick up these cultural habits while studying the language, which is beneficial when visiting the country.

It’s also a well-known fact that people who are able to speak different languages have better results in tests that measure open-mindedness. Unlike monolinguals, they are often willing to take new ideas into consideration. If you’re open to the idea of learning a new language, you can do it!

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