Learning a new language fast may give you the edge in the workplace, lower your chances of getting Parkinson’s disease and make your tour trips abroad a lot smoother. But sometimes the benefits of learning a new language go beyond day to day utility and touch on the personal transformation and growth
I believe there’s more gained in learning a new language than simply being able to curse with another set of sounds!
Sometimes what you need is not just techniques and methods you should use to learn the language, but a reason to keep up your learning progresses.
Learning a language can have so many plainly seen benefits that I simply don’t get someone who refuses to learn a new language despite having the means and time to do so. But, if for some reason , you too have lost that momentum in your fluency mission, then know that beside the practical, career and social based benefits, learning a new language can bring about a type of personal growth that you might have not seen coming.
#1. Stepping out of your comfort zone
Have you ever sang a song that you liked but of which you didn’t really know the lyrics? Admit it, we both know you did! How would it feel to sing that song out loud in front of strangers, or worse, for your boss or classroom to hear? A bit embarrassing right?
I believe this is the feeling one gets when speaking a foreign language for the first time. An almost palpable feeling of pain, distress and discomfort. It’s perfectly understandable then, that we are so reluctant to even try. After all, why put ourselves in such an awkward situation when we can perfectly ‘get by’ using our native language, some well rehearsed gestures and a couple of killer expressions?
But imagine reaching a no turning point at which you finally decide you simply won’t care who’s listening anymore, and that not even your greatest fears will stop you from pursuing your passion… To begin with, a decision of this caliber will reward you with a huge confidence boost, a point that I will conveniently address next.
#2. Self Confidence and Pride Boost
Once you start realizing that you are actually able to speak another language when you almost started thinking languages weren’t your thing, your self confidence will raise up a notch or two. When, despite your own self doubts, you are able to spontaneously tie up a couple of sentences together in a meaningful manner without having previously memorized, you immediately get a huge sense of accomplishment! If you could achieve this, how many more new things are you going to enjoy at least trying out?
#3. Better listening skills
Good listening skills are a rare commodity nowadays, mostly because we seem to have too little time and so many social networks to update! Even in a normal native to native conversation, listening skills may often be less than optimal. Yet, by learning another language you will have developed a set of fresh new ears simply because your normal passive way of listening will not help you in having a good conversation, or any conversation at all, in the language you are learning. You really need to focus on the sounds that come from the other person’s mouth and really look for meaning, intonation, expression, as well as the relation of all that to the situation and the context you are in. If you fail to take in all this, you will likely have a very shallow exchange.
# 4. Empathy
The struggle and the frustration you simply have to go through at the beginning of your language learning will put you in a better place to understand, and feel empathy for, foreign people who try to speak your own language.
# 5. Growth
Setting for yourself the goal of learning the language, setting deadline, managing your schedule, practicing when you said you would practice and being regular at it, all these are skills that you harness while learning a language. Besides this, coming in contact, or even just allowing our little closed brains to imagine the possibility that other people may say or do things in a different way than ours its a huge potential for personal growth.
# 6. Independence
When you are in a foreign country, even just being able to get a bunch of phrases right, will offer you a peak view to what you could do and how easily you could manage your day to day life when you don’t need to depend on someone else to translate for you or the good heart of the other person to try and speak your language. You are the captain of your own ship, you decide how confident or how timid you want to feel by the action you take.
# 7. Creativity
Learning a language is not the easiest task of the world, that’s why we need to get creative when it comes to the resources and methods we can use in our language learning journey.
Even when it comes to memorizing vocabulary, one of the most effective ways to remember a word is by creating a vivid image which will anchor the word in the foreign language, its original meaning as well as its pronunciation: that alone requires quite a deal of creative muscle!
Also, I find that learning new languages and coming across different alphabets, stimulates our brain and forces us to rethink about our ordinary lives and the ways we take for granted. Practically, we get a slightly (or not so slightly) different view of the world simply by the act of learning a new language.
# 8. Curiosity
As soon as you start learning the language, you’ll start, hopefully, discovering different sounds, sentence construction, grammatical rules, idioms, that you simply won’t be able to resist wondering why they say something in a certain way instead of another. You start also discovering the influences of other languages on the language that you are trying to learn and find out about the origin of the words and the relations between this culture and other cultures….
# 9. Tolerance
There’s a chance that while you are learning languages, you will be exposed to something of the culture of the country as well. The world is so rich and diverse that when you start discovering the philosophy and values of other countries you can’t help but starting to understand why they behave a certain way, and often knowledge breeds empathy, which creates tolerance, or so I hope.
This does not mean that you have to agree or even like all of their culture and customs, but you do not start judging them or trying to change them as you wouldn’t want them to change your ways overnight!
Bonus #10. Sheer Happiness
You said you were going to learn Blahblabese, and you did it. What could be a more powerful way to bring happiness in our lives than keeping the promises we make to ourselves?
Were there hidden benefits in your language learning experience? Let me know all about it!