Hey guys! Today I’d like to talk about something I have a ton of opinions on, most probably unpopular, but haven’t gotten to write about.
So, I’d like to take a moment to consider and think about the benefits and advantages of being bilingual — or trilingual — or a polyglot.
I’m sure you’ve read plenty of articles on this topic, and those articles probably consisted of things such as “having another language increases your job opportunities,” “it leads to more romantic options,” and “you can show off to your friends and family.” While all of those benefits are true and I do agree with them, I feel there are plenty more out there that are never talked about and if so, are extremely underrated.
So, without further ado, here are my favorite benefits and advantages of, as well as reasons to start, learning a foreign language.
1. You Can Reconnect with Your Heritage
If you’re from another ethnicity, whether it be 100% full blooded or a little slither you found from Ancestry.com, learning the language your ancestors speak is an exciting journey to connecting with your heritage.
For me, my father is 50% Venezuelan and my mom is 50% German, meaning I am Venezuelan-American-German. A mouthful, but it’s true. I’m 50% American, 25% Venezuelan, and 25% German (although I have inherited what seems to be literally none of the German genes and all of the Venezuelan).
So for me, my heritage languages are English, Spanish, and German. Although I don’t speak any German and only a little bit of Spanish, I’d like to learn Spanish fluently some day to simply reconnect with my Latina heritage…and be able to understand my relatives who speak incredibly poor English.
2. You Have an Excuse to be on Your Phone 24/7
My phone is a complete study tool. I have Snapchat and Facbeook and those are about the only things under the category ‘Entertainment’ on my iPhone. However, I also have many other things that would normally be considered ‘entertainment’ that I consider ‘study tools’…
Youtube, Drama Fever, Skype, WeChat, Pinterest, Muscial.ly, etc.
When my parents ask me why I’ve been on my phone all day, I simply say “I’ve been studying Chinese and Korean like crazy,” when most people would have to say “I’ve been watching 10 hours of kpop and Korean dramas” without lying.
My Pinterest boards are filled with fun language learning tips, colorful verb conjugation charts, and beautiful big cities that would normally be under the category “Dream Vacation” but for me is under “College.”
Drama Fever for most people is a fun app that allows them to watch foreign soap operas with subtitles. For me, it’s an app that allows me to watch foreign soap operas while practicing my listening comprehension.
Skype and WeChat are normally used to talk with your best friends who probably live only a few miles away from you. For me, they’re used to practice texting and speaking Chinese and Korean with two of my best friends on the other side of the world!
3. You Can Say You’re Social
I am a natural introvert–or at least, I was–so when someone tells me I’m shy and too quiet, I can say “no, I actually talk a LOT to people on the other side of the world!”
Language is a social thing…you probably already knew that. I know three of them, which means I’m three times more social than you are 🙂
4. You See Things From a Different Perspective
This can be a completely awesome thing, but also a really annoying thing, but we can talk about that a different day!
After having studied two Asian languages and dabbling in a few others for the past six years, it’s only natural that I’ve begun seeing things…well…like an Asian.
There are many, many, MANY cultural differences between America and China. For people who only speak English, they tend to see things out of the American eyes they were given (no pun intended). Whereas Asians on the other hand see a lot of things completely opposite.
Just a few examples:
America: If you’re a parent who sends their kid to a private school, home schools, or even a boarding school you are seen as strict, overprotective and often hear the phrase, “let him/her be a child!”
China: If you’re a parent who sends their kid to a private school, boarding school, or home schools, you are seen as an amazing parent who rightly places their kid at the top of their priority list and would do anything for their future, education and happiness.
America: If you’re a kid who goes to a private school, boarding school, or is home schooled (I should know because I was home schooled for nine years and now go to a private Christian school), people feel sorry for you because you have to follow strict rules and wear button up shirts, jeans, or uniforms everyday.
China: If you’re a kid who goes to a private school, boarding school, or is home schooled you’re seen as a wealthy kid who has extremely rich parents and treasures you with all their might, plus you have an insanely bright future ahead of you that is filled with tons of job opportunities and the best of the best college, which is usually international.
Since I’m bilingual, speaking both American English and Chinese, I naturally see things from both perspectives, which has lead to tons of people calling me “wise beyond my years,” “mature,” “humble,” “unique,” “interesting” and “fun to be around.”
5. You Can Be Multiple People
You might have not been able to name yourself when you were born, but you sure can name yourself when you learn another language!
In English, my name is Brooke. In Chinese, my name is Jia Li (pronounced jya-lee). In Korean, my name is Yo Ra.
Therefore, when speaking English I’m Brooke; when speaking Mandarin I’m Jia Li; and when speaking Korean I’m Yo Ra.
When someone asks me what my name is in Chinese or if I’m meeting someone online from China for the first time, I always introduce myself as Jia Li. Not only do I love that name because of how beautiful it sounds, I love the story behind it!
My Chinese teacher gave me the name Jia Li, which means ‘beautiful woman,’ after I had been studying for 4 years.
My best friend who speaks Korean also gave me the name Yo Ra because she says it suits me.
6. Learning One Language Makes the Second 10x Easier
You’re brain already knows that it’s done it before, so when you’re on your way to becoming trilingual, things will generally become smoother.
Also, you’ve made mistakes when learning the first and discovered what really works for you, so when learning the second you would know what to avoid and what to use again, resulting in faster progress.
7. There are NO Limits to What You Can Do!
Or at least that’s how it feels for me. Reaching B2 level fluency in Mandarin has been thus far the biggest achievement of my life ever, and I am certainly the most proud of it.
When I began understanding every conversation I had with a native speaker, speaking easily in the language, being able to communicate what I want to say correctly, and dreaming in the language I felt like I was invincible and there was nothing beyond what I can do. And let me tell you, all of those moments were some of the most exciting moments of my life that I will never forget (getting to that later).
You can go places, think in different ways, dream new dreams, make new friends, try new things, be brave enough to do what everyone else deems impossible, etc. etc.
8. Your Imagination is 100000x More Interesting
Although this is one of the silliest ones, it is also one of the BIGGEST benefits of learning a language, too!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reenacted scenes from my favorite Korean dramas in the shower, or my favorite scenes from Chinese movies when home alone. I also can’t count how many times I’ve had conversations with my K-pop bias in my head, in Korean, or imagined what it would be like to meet face-to-face and party with my best friends in China in Chinese.
And countless other things. But all in all, trust me, your imagination gets crazier, more interesting, and more exciting.
9. Speaking in Another Tongue is Extremely Satisfying
As dumb as it sounds, I absolutely love talking to myself in Chinese because of the way my tongue moves and the way it feels coming out of my mouth. It’s insanely satisfying! And if not speaking out loud, I’m constantly having conversations with myself through whispers.
Before I reached Intermediate fluency and didn’t have much vocab, I would ramble different words that sounded like Mandarin and very well could be Chinese words, just to see how it would feel when I’m finally fluent and because I liked the way it felt to speak that way.
10. It Takes Longer for You to Get Old
Studies have shown that being bilingual prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, and can add up to five years to your lifespan. It also improves your memory and makes it last longer.
Sound impossible? Well, it’s logical actually.
When you’re bilingual, your brain is more active than normal because it’s used to thinking in two languages, going back and forth, seeing things from multiple perspectives and having learned thousands of vocabulary words before.
So, instead of buying all that chemical-filled anti-aging stuff, just learn a second language.
11. Learning Other Things Naturally Becomes 10x More Fun
I never enjoyed science, algebra or English class until I started studying foreign languages.
Why? Because when I study Chinese and Korean, I found so many ways to make it fun and enjoyable, so now studying other things comes naturally and isn’t a big deal at all.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m guilty of pushing off memorizing a list of 62 of the elements on the Periodic Table to the night before the chemistry final because I know that it’ll only take me thirty minutes to learn all 62 of them.
And it did, and I made a 100% on the final and a 99% average in the class.
Now that my brain is so used to learning so many words, structures, patterns, facts, etc., learning other things is so much easier and I’m proud to say that I’m a straight A high school student thanks to my experience in learning languages.
Well, that’s my top 11 reasons why everyone should learn another language and the benefits of doing so. I’m sure most of you can agree that you’ve likely never heard them before or if so, that they are clearly underrated.
So, to spread the word, please like and share so that everyone else can see how fun learning actually is!