10 Science-Backed Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language (2023)

As our world continues to become more and more globalized, people seek opportunities to develop useful skills in this age of quick communication and collaboration. Bilingualism is one of the most beneficial skills that can help you communicate with people from all over the world. And learning a second language is about choosing a proactive approach.

There’s no sense in expecting everyone to speak your language. If you want to build new connections, you need to adapt, and learning another language enables you to do it. Unfortunately, only about 18% of Americans can fluently speak more than one language, so understanding the benefits of learning is really important.

Knowing different languages is great for communication. This isn’t, however, the only advantage of learning languages. Numerous studies have demonstrated that expanding your vocabulary and learning new languages is directly related to the cognitive process.

When you’re bilingual, your brain operates in a slightly different way, and such a difference can be quite beneficial for you. In this article, we’re going to consider the science-backed benefits of learning foreign languages so that you can figure out how learning can benefit you and help you achieve your specific goals.

10 Science-Backed Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language (1)


#1 Improve Your English

When you learn a foreign language, you can reflect on the features of your native language and better understand how it works. You can compare the two languages and see the differences that were caused by different historical backgrounds and contexts. When you speak your native language, the chances are that you don’t really think of why a certain sentence has a particular type of structure, or how the words are created.

(Video) 15 Reasons to LEARN a Foreign Language 📚

According to research that focused on the impact of second language education, learning a foreign language can help you improve your reading skills, grammar, and vocabulary when using your native language. The same effect is familiar to many athletes.

For example, when you play basketball, you can learn moves you may also use when playing volleyball. You can also compare offensive tactics and use this knowledge to come up with more effective approaches.

#2 Learn Faster

Scientists discovered the mechanisms you train when learning a new language can be used when dealing with many other tasks, as well. Learning languages enables you to learn faster. According to research, language learning works as a problem-solving exercise so it improves your ability to learn anything else.

Learning languages also improves memory retention. Therefore, learning languages as an exercise enables you to not only absorb more information but also retain it.

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#3 Boost Your Focus

Another study focused on the impact of learning languages has on comprehension. Researchers used fMRI to observe people who knew more than one language while they were solving various word comprehension tasks. It turned out that bilingual and multilingual people demonstrated better results than those who only speak one language. For instance, multilingual people demonstrated a better ability to filter out competing words. In addition, they were more focused on the task.

An interesting thing about this study is that, while you may think that the results depend on whether a person is fluent in another language, or on how many languages they know, even the basic knowledge of a foreign language enabled the participants to demonstrate better results. Therefore, it’s important to keep learning, even if it seems like the chosen language is too difficult and you’re still too far from native speakers.

(Video) The Health Benefits Of Learning a Foreign Language | Daria Zaikovskaia | TEDxOulu

#4 Improve Your Tech Skills

Perhaps, one of the most interesting things about learning foreign languages is that it can help you improve skills that have nothing to do with reading or writing. For instance, researchers found out that children who study a foreign language improve their math skills. Moreover, they outperformed other students even when language studies took time away from their math assignments.

Scientists also demonstrated how beneficial learning a second language can be, even if you don’t dedicate a lot of time to it. It turns out that students who learned another language for just one semester, spending only 90 minutes a week studying it, performed better not only when it comes to language but also when dealing with math tasks.

Perhaps, one of the reasons why learning a foreign language can help improve math skills is that you develop your structural and logical thinking, in general. Besides, many students who learn languages use various memorization techniques that can be very useful when dealing with math formulas and equations.

#5 Boost Your Creativity

Learning a new language enables you to think differently. Different languages have different rules of grammar and follow different logical rules. Besides, when you’re learning a new language, you often need to look for synonyms and antonyms, especially when you don’t know what word you can use in a particular situation. You have to design sentences so that they will make sense to a listener, which means that you have to work on logical tasks.

Language learning enables you to improve your divergent thinking because you have to consider different problems and search for multiple solutions, choosing a certain solution depending on the context. People who learn languages deal with such tasks on a regular basis so they learn to think creatively. Therefore, there’s no surprise that researchers found multilingual people are more creative than monolingual people.

#6 Prevent Brain Disease

Most people don’t worry about brain diseases when they’re young. The situation, however, changes as we get older. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are some of the most common brain diseases that have a massive negative impact on the overall quality of life, and it turns out that learning new languages can help fight these diseases.

According to research, learning languages can delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by 4.5 years or even prevent their development. Moreover, even the most effective drugs can only delay the symptoms of these diseases by 6 to 12 months. It turns out that learning new languages creates new neural pathways in the brain so the brain can use more channels to process information.

(Video) The benefits of a bilingual brain - Mia Nacamulli

#7 Improve Your Communication Skills

This effect of learning languages is rather obvious but it’s nevertheless worth emphasizing. First, the main purpose of learning a foreign language is to get a new tool for communication. However, it also enables you to familiarize yourself with a new culture. Learning a language is also impossible without practice. You have to talk to native speakers, attend language meetups, or use conversation exchanges.

“Communication is also a skill, and you won’t be able to develop it if you don’t have enough practice. Learning a new language encourages you to communicate with people more often so you can not only learn how to speak another language but also how to communicate more effectively, in general,” adds Adam Simon, content writer at LegitWritingServices, a writing service review site and education blog.

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#8 Improve Your Brain

According to research, learning a new language enables us to “rewire” the brain. The researchers worked with people who studied tonal differences between languages for one hour. It turns out that the learning process not only improves memory retention but also trains our brain to process new information, no matter what kind of information it is. As a result, the brain can process information faster and more effectively.

The most amazing discovery, however, is that learning foreign languages can increase the size of your brain. When you study a new language, your brain increases in mass. Another interesting thing is that it doesn’t happen when people study anything else.

#9 Improve Your Decision-Making Skills

Many people cannot make decisions quickly, and one of the most common reasons is that they tend to overthink. However, when you need to communicate in a foreign language, you have fewer opportunities to overthink. According to research, people are less likely to overthink when somebody asks them to make a decision in a foreign language. The differences between your native language and a foreign language force you to focus on the subject matter and to consider the most important aspects instead of overthinking.

(Video) The secrets of learning a new language | Lýdia Machová

#10 Become More Confident

No matter what goals you have, when you achieve them, it boosts your confidence. When you talk to a native speaker for the first time and feel that both of you enjoy the conversation and understand one another, you will become more confident. You will see that you can do something you couldn’t do before. It’s also important to manage your expectations and to be realistic about your capabilities so that you can set realistic goals. For instance, speaking with a perfect accent is an achievable goal, but you should understand that it’s impossible to achieve it quickly. Don’t compare your skills to those of native speakers because you may feel frustrated. We recommend that you evaluate your success by comparing your current skill level to where you were at before.

Wrapping Up

Learning a foreign language is a complex process that positively impacts your brain and personality in many ways. Scientists continue to discover more and more benefits to learning languages. However, they already have many impressive arguments that prove learning a new language is certainly a great idea. If you want to develop your communication skills, learn faster, memorize more information, and improve your cognitive process, just start to learn another language!

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About the Author: The above post is a guest post from Rhonda Martinez. Rhonda Martinez is an English teacher for adults and senior editor at LegitWritingServices. Being a passionate educator, Rhonda never stops learning herself. She is always on the lookout for new, effective teaching practices and strategies.

10 Science-Backed Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language (4)

FAQs

What are the benefits of learning a foreign language answer? ›

Foreign language study enhances one's opportunities in government, business, medicine, law, technology, military, industry, marketing, etc. A second language improves your skills and grades in math and English and on the SAT and GRE. Analytical skills improve when students study a foreign language.

What is the scientifically proven best way to learn a language? ›

The theory is that repeated exposure over time is better than the same exposure crammed into a short space of time. If you're learning a language, start writing down new words as you come across them. Put them on cards with a translation into your language on the back.

What are 3 benefits of learning a foreign language? ›

Language learning helps develop strong cognitive skills, such as a better concept formation, mental flexibility, multitasking, listening skills and problem-solving, in addition to improving social interaction and encouraging connection between peers.

What are 5 reasons to learn a foreign language? ›

7 Reasons to learn a foreign language
  • Improve your career prospects. ...
  • Enhance your communication skills. ...
  • Increase your brain power. ...
  • Enjoy travel more. ...
  • Learn about other cultures. ...
  • Enhance your memory and problem-solving skills. ...
  • Enjoy literature, films and music in the original language.
Dec 12, 2022

Which foreign language is beneficial? ›

Mandarin

With over one billion Mandarin Chinese speakers worldwide, it was on the list of the most important languages to learn.

Is learning more languages good for the brain? ›

Language learning helps improve people's thinking skills and memory abilities. Bilingual students concentrate better, ignoring distractions more effectively than those who only speak one language.

Are some brains better at learning languages? ›

The answer, experts say, seems to be yes, no and it's complicated. For some people, genes may prime the brain to be good at language learning, according to some new research. And studies are just starting to pinpoint a few brain regions that are extra-large or extra-efficient in people who excel at languages.

Does learning a language improve brain? ›

Language learning skills will help learners in all areas of their lives, improving their mental abilities, and helping them with problem-solving and decision–making. Ultimately, this all goes towards enriching their personal, social and professional relationships.

What are the psychological benefits of learning a language? ›

Benefits of Learning a New Language:
  • Improve Cognitive Functions. When you are learning and using a new language, you are exercising your brain. ...
  • Fight Depression. ...
  • Delay Dementia Symptoms. ...
  • Recover from Brain Injury. ...
  • Open Your Mind. ...
  • Boost Confidence. ...
  • Improve Multitasking Skills. ...
  • Have Fun.
Jul 9, 2020

What are 5 benefits of learning Spanish? ›

Here are 25 reasons why you should learn Spanish.
  • Second Most Spoken Language. The best reason to choose Spanish as a second language is its widespread use across the globe. ...
  • Spanish in the U.S. ...
  • Spanish Language Films. ...
  • Spanish Language Songs. ...
  • Spanish Books. ...
  • Traveling Opportunities. ...
  • Cultural Opportunities. ...
  • Resume Booster.
Sep 14, 2022

What are two benefits of studying a foreign language online? ›

10 Advantages of Learning a Foreign Language Online
  • A Huge Variety of Courses, Languages, and Teachers. ...
  • Location — Learn From Anywhere. ...
  • Learning uncommon and Less taught languages. ...
  • It's more Budget-friendly than traditional classes. ...
  • Online Language Courses are also efficient. ...
  • You Get To Learn From Native Speakers.

What are the 5 C's of foreign language learning? ›

The five “C” goal areas (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) stress the application of learning a language beyond the instructional setting.

What are the four basic skills of learning a foreign language? ›

Benefits of testing the four skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) When we say that someone 'speaks' a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level in all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

What are 5 of the most important languages around the world? ›

  • French: a language of major cultural importance. ...
  • Arabic: the second language of the business world. ...
  • Spanish: a language on the up. ...
  • Hindi: one of the most widespread official languages of India. ...
  • Mandarin Chinese: the language with the most native speakers. ...
  • English: the language of communications par excellence.
Apr 5, 2022

Which foreign language is useful for future? ›

Mandarin Chinese (普通话 / Pǔtōnghuà)

One in every five people in the world speaks Chinese. It might take time, but Mandarin is the language of the future.

What is the most positive language in the world? ›

Researchers found that Spanish was the happiest language, followed by English and Portuguese. The second and third most happy popular languages were Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Spanish. To make yourself happier, the researchers suggest that you improve the content of your Body language & language.

What is the most useful language in America? ›

English is by far the most prominent spoken language in the U.S., with over 239 million English-speaking people across the country.

What are the benefits of language? ›

Improves memory and brain function Learning a language strengthens the area of the brain which is responsible for memory, speech and sensory perception. Bilingual people are better at retaining lists, sequences, names and directions. They are also more creative, perceptive and can concentrate for longer.

What is the conclusion of learning a foreign language? ›

According to research, learning a foreign language improves problem-solving, critical thinking, and listening abilities, as well as memory, concentration, and the ability to multitask. Children who are fluent in another language show evidence of increased creativity and mental flexibility.

Do bilinguals have better memory? ›

Summary: Bilingual children develop a better working memory –- which holds, processes and updates information over short periods of time -– than monolingual children, according to new research.

Does learning a language help prevent dementia? ›

Studies have shown that people who utilise their brains more through furthering their language tend to have lower rates of dementia and memory problems later in life regardless of education levels, gender or occupation.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

Does language affect IQ? ›

Our results suggest that language abilities appear to have a significant influence on cognitive test performance, whereas test characteristics do not influence performance, after accounting for language abilities.

What language is the most learned? ›

The most studied language in the world is English, with 1.5 billion foreign language learners. The second most studied language in the world is French, with 120 million global learners.

Why are some people gifted with languages? ›

The answer, experts say, seems to be yes, no and it's complicated. For some people, genes may prime the brain to be good at language learning, according to some new research. And studies are just starting to pinpoint a few brain regions that are extra-large or extra-efficient in people who excel at languages.

Does learning a new language change your personality? ›

Whether you've noticed it or not, research suggests yes, our personalities can shift depending on the language we are speaking. Your attitude to a language and the cultural values you place on it play a part in how you label your personality when speaking that language, say experts at Stockholm University.

Does learning a language boost confidence? ›

Language learning improves your self-esteem

Language learning can boost your self-esteem which will also improve a number of other areas of your life. Good self-esteem can help to minimize symptoms of depression while also encouraging growth in your social and professional life.

What are the cognitive benefits of bilingualism? ›

Bilingual people enjoy advantages: they have enriched cognitive control, it's likely that they have improved metalinguistic awareness, as well as better memory, visual-spatial skills and even creativity. There are also social benefits from being bilingual.

What are the benefits of learning French? ›

10 good reasons to learn French
  • A world language. ...
  • A language for the international job market. ...
  • The language of culture. ...
  • A language for travel. ...
  • A language for higher education. ...
  • The other language of international relations. ...
  • A language that opens up the world. ...
  • A language that is fun to learn.

Why learning Russian is important today? ›

It's one of the most spoken languages in the world

Not only is it the official language of Russia, but it has official status in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It's also spoken regularly in Israel, the Baltics, China, Ukraine, Armenia and even the United States.

What are 3 benefits of speaking Spanish? ›

The ability to speak fluent Spanish might help you connect with new people, employers, organizations and understand new forms of media. You could watch Spanish TV shows or movies, read Spanish books and attend Spanish-speaking events.

Why do we need to study the world? ›

1. Develop an Understanding of the World. Through history, we can learn how past societies, systems, ideologies, governments, cultures and technologies were built, how they operated, and how they have changed. The rich history of the world helps us to paint a detailed picture of where we stand today.

What are the benefits of learning a foreign language follow up questions? ›

Speaking a language helps you to access multiple areas of your brain, this is because each language requires differing skills with regards to pronunciation, etymology, structural rules and varying degrees of complexities. It therefore makes sense that the more languages you speak the more brain power you exude.

What are the benefits of learning foreign culture? ›

Exposure to diverse cultures, where possible, helps you welcome and appreciate people who are different from you. Further, the more your children interact with other children from different cultures, the more they respect and value them. The importance of language in human communication cannot be overstated.

Why is a language important? ›

Language is a vital part of human connection. Although all species have their ways of communicating, humans are the only ones that have mastered cognitive language communication. Language allows us to share our ideas, thoughts, and feelings with others. It has the power to build societies, but also tear them down.

What are the benefits of being bilingual? ›

Research has found that babies raised in bilingual households show better self-control,8 a key indicator of school success. Bilingual and biliterate individuals have the opportunity to participate in the global community in more ways, get information from more places, and learn more about people from other cultures.

How can learning Spanish help your brain? ›

Learning Spanish is also good for brain health throughout life. Being bilingual helps improve memory, helps to focus on tasks more easily, prevents dementia to some degree and helps improve cognitive skills.

Does learning a foreign language help your brain? ›

Language learning skills will help learners in all areas of their lives, improving their mental abilities, and helping them with problem-solving and decision–making. Ultimately, this all goes towards enriching their personal, social and professional relationships.

What happens to your brain when you learn a new language? ›

More generally, learning a new language improves brain function, providing better memory, more mental flexibility and creativity, and can even delay the onset of dementia.

What are 4 benefits of culture? ›

Cultural experiences are opportunities for leisure, entertainment, learning, and sharing experiences with others.

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