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The Advantages of Learning a Second Language

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Every morning during my commute to work, I listen to the Dutch radio while reading the Irish news on my phone. The two languages blend in together and both come naturally to me nowadays. But just a few short years ago, I never would have thought I would be writing in a foreign language.

I was not raised bilingual and did not develop my second language skills until my early twenties. I had learned the basic English language skills school when I was a teenager but I didn’t push it through until much later, when I realised it would have more benefits for me then I initially thought.  Besides helping you when traveling or watching a movie without subtitles, learning a new language and the culture around it will enhance your global mindset and your career possibilities.  

Career benefits  

We are living in an increasingly globalised world and companies are constantly expanding to other countries and dealing with clients from all over the world. The ability to communicate in another language has become a significant advantage, and is a major appeal for employers looking to expand their businesses.  
While the ability to speak a second language has long been associated with jobs like teacher or travel agent, speaking multiple languages now can benefit almost any profession. And between two candidates with a similar skillset and experience, it is arguably the person who is bilingual is in with a better shot.  It will also give you the unique opportunity to work in a multilingual and cultural environment.  

Personal and social benefits  

Learning a second language will bring self-confidence, self-discovery and self-actualization into your life. It will help you see things from a deferent prospective and give you a better understanding of the different approaches that different cultures take. It will draw attention to the abstract rules and structure of your native language, and will develop your skills in them as well.  
Learning a new language it will help you build an international network of connections, as well as help you to form new friendships. Even a hand full of phrases will make your experiences and learning process better, and will open you up to a whole new world of conversations.   

Health benefits  

Learning a new language not only benefits your career opportunities and appreciation of new cultures, it actually brings health benefits as well.  Besides the fact that it is a great workout for your brain, different studies have shown that learning a second language results in a better memory, better ability to multitask, improved decision making capabilities, and it significantly delays the onset of many brain related diseases such as Alzheimer and dementia. 
Don’t underestimate the personal benefits a second language will bring to you or the value it holds. Learning a new language is difficult, but it is also extremely rewarding and satisfying. It takes time to master another language, so have patience and accept that it isn’t something you learn in a month.  Don’t let the frustration get to you, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes when practicing. We say the wrong thing at some stage.  And let’s be honest, the most embarrassing stories are the funniest one later on.  
I have met so many people (and I’m guilty of it myself) who have said something to the effect of “I really like that language and would love to be able to speak it”. What’s stopping you? Just start. Change your mindset and do it. You’ll end up wondering why it took you so long. It will leave you wandering why you have not done it earlier. 

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