If learning a new language has fallen to the bottom of your bucket list, it’s time to bring that baby back to the top! Don’t be intimidated; you are totally capable of rolling those rrr’s like Shakira and ordering like a pro at your favorite restaurant. Check out these seven reasons why you should be learning a foreign language below.
1. Expand job opportunities
Many companies have gone global with offices, conferences, and clients in foreign countries. Therefore, companies need someone who can communicate with international offices and even interpret for others. Being able to speak a second language will set you apart from other job applicants and help land your dream job. Bonus: your passport is sure to be full of stamps from all the business trips you’ll embark on.
2. Break the stereotype
Did you know that, on average, European children have mastered two languages by the age of nine? It’s no secret that Americans have a stereotype of being egocentric and lazy, but that stereotype does not have to be reality! Tired of the eye rolls, lack of respect, and poor service when traveling in another country? Try your best to order your meal, say hello, or ask simple questions in the local language. Do not worry how you sound. Do not worry if you completely screw it up and say the wrong word. They will appreciate the effort, trust me. Many Americans take comfort in the fact that English is recognized and spoken all over the world. Don’t take the easy way out — challenge yourself to speak the language of wherever your wanderlust takes you.
3. To not stand out as a tourist
Unfortunately, no matter where you go, there will always be individuals willing to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the area, customs, and language. Tourists can be major targets of pickpocketing, street harassment, and scams. This is not your fault. I repeat, this is not your fault! Learning just a few phrases of the local language can help give you the confidence to hold your own. Individuals are less likely to take advantage if they think you are from the area or surrounding areas.
4. Learn about a new culture
Odds are, when you are learning a new language, you will want to learn about the native speakers’ countries and perhaps travel to them. The United States is a wonderful place full of opportunity, land, and cupcake vending machines, but we are not alone here. There are 195 other countries in this world. 195 countries full of traditions, stories, heroes, lovers, struggles, mouth-watering foods, masterpieces, reminders, and new friendships. Learning about another culture does not mean forgetting your native culture. Embracing and understanding new cultures is something each one of us has the responsibility and the power to do!
5. Make connections
Maybe you’re studying abroad in Spain and haven’t been in a Spanish class since high school. Don’t solely rely on the basic phrases you learned then to get you by. Make the most of your experience by learning more of the local language wherever you’re studying or traveling. This opens up new possibilities of friendship with locals at your school or random souls you meet along the way. These friendships can be life-changing! Just imagine: you’re in a café and a tall, chiseled, super intelligent, attractive stranger offers to buy you a coffee. If you don’t know the language, how are you going to communicate to him that he’s going to be your soulmate/Netflix partner/the father of your dog children?
6. Improve your confidence
There is no better feeling than being able to tell a taxi driver where you are going — besides maybe being able to hold a conversation with said taxi driver. Hey, we will get there one day. Tackling a new language gives you a unique sense of pride. You will most definitely feel unstoppable and ready to take on another language! Also, you will feel super awesome when you recognize phrases in movies, books, recipes, quotes, and songs.
7. Sing and/or rap in a new language
If the first six reasons weren’t enough, learning a new language means you can sing or rap in a whole new language. Serenade that lover/dog/donut with those rolling rrr’s and enchanting rhymes. Side note, I’m still working on my French rapping skills. I’ll let you guys know when I’ll be on Ellen.
Learning a new language is not easy. It takes time, patience, and dedication but the rewards are absolutely worth it. For those of you who are reading this and thinking you are too old, incapable, or don’t have the time, think again. A little practice everyday will go far and you are NEVER too old to do anything. Already learning a foreign language? Let us know in the comments below your favorite language programs, books, or tools!