Five reasons to learn a foreign language

Did you know that at UCAB, students and professors can strengthen their knowledge of English and other languages ​​thanks to the Centro para el Desarrollo de Lenguas Extranjeras (Center for the Development of Foreign Languages -CDLE)? The academic coordinator of this institute, Annet Da Mata, offers some tips about the importance and benefits of undertaking this task

Five reasons to learn a foreign language

“Everything goes through language”, a professor told me once. At that moment, I didn’t actually understand what she meant. Through time it became clear: we use language for everything; we use it to express ideas, believes and feelings, we use it to persuade (or manipulate), to model behaviors, and so on. This means that every single thing we want to create or manifest, for good or bad, goes through language first; it is one of the most powerful tools we have, that’s why we need to use it appropriately to achieve our aims.

Nowadays, knowing only your mother tongue might not be enough — fortunately, there’s more than one and only language which give us an excellent learning opportunity. — Imagine everything you could achieve being bilingual or multilingual, think of the expansion your physical and mental boarders will have… 

A lot has been said about the importance of learning foreign languages. However, if you still have some doubts, here you have five good reasons to take into consideration:   

  1. Bilingual brains are in better shape.

Even though it cannot be stated that speaking more than one language will make you smarter, several studies have shown that knowing foreign languages can strength your brain. It is said that the effort of changing from one language to another helps improve the cognitive response[1]. Bilingual (or multilingual) people are usually better at:

  • Focusing on one thing and eliminating distractions.

  • Problem solving.

  • Changing between tasks.

  • Processing information.

Do you want to know more? Check: The benefits of a bilingual brain – Mia Nacamulli

 

  1. Learning languages will help you develop empathy.

Being multilingual, doesn’t necessarily mean being multicultural. If you learn a language in job-related contexts and you only use it for investigation, reading and answering emails, checking requirements lists or manuals, you might be missing the cultural part. On the other hand, if you learn a new tongue and you get involved with its culture too, you might also be multicultural.   

The truth is that language and culture are deeply related. Learning a language, knowing its common expressions and vocabulary will help you understand people’s behavior and cultural traits. For example, Spanish and French have a specific expression to be used when eating: Buen provecho/ Bon appétit. What does this tell you about the role food have in these cultures?

Knowing these aspects will help you understand why people from other cultures behave the way they do which will make you a more tolerant and empathic person. You will also be able to use that foreign language more appropriately. Understanding, tolerance and empathy are very useful values when dealing with problem solving.

  1. Get information from the original source.

Another great benefit of speaking other languages is that you have the opportunity to approach information — in most cases, very up to date and fresh— without the need of a translator. This can be very useful in job-related contexts (e.g.: investigations, updates in new systems or machinery, among others) and also for leisure (e.g.: videos and series on the internet).

This can also minimize the possibility of a misunderstanding because you will receive the information directly from first hand, the original source.

  1. More competitive profile.

In this globalized era we are living, physical boarders are being eliminated. With social networks we can have information on-time about what’s happening in the other side of the world, and with internet, working for a company in Japan while living in Argentina is possible. However, language skills can become an important limitation.

It is said that more than 50% of the population worldwide speaks more than one language (43% are bilingual, 13% are trilingual, 3% multilingual and 1% polyglots) [2]. Taking into account this data, how competitive can you be in the job market if you speak only one language? So, learn a foreign language and update your profile!  

  1. More quality of life during old age.

Several studies have proved that speaking more than one language can delay considerably the development of diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s during the old age. It means that in your golden years, your brain will be in good shape; this will allow you to have a better life quality and more profitable moments with your love ones.

So, after reading all this information, which foreign language you would like to learn?

At UCAB, students and professors can strengthen their knowledge of english and other foreign languages in the Centro para el Desarrollo de Lenguas Extranjeras (CDLE).

If you want more information, feel free to approach its office, located on the 1st. floor of Postgraduate Building, in UCAB, Montalbán.  Yo can also call the phone number 0212-407.6171.

♦Annet Da Mata. Academic Coordinator. CDLE. /adamata@ucab.edu.ve

[1] https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2014/11/bilingual-brains-better-equipped-to-process-information

[2] Source: ilanguages http://ilanguages.org/bilingual.php

*If you want to read the spanish version of this article, please click on this link: Cinco razones para aprender un idioma extranjero

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