Why should we learn a new langauge? - Sydney Community College

Why should we learn a new langauge?

Learning a new language offers a host of advantages, both personally and professionally. It provides a gateway to a different culture, allowing for deeper connections and a better understanding of traditions and customs. In a world dominated it seems, by conflict and suffering, such understanding can only be of benefit. Learning a language also enhances cognitive functions like problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity, while also improving memory and multitasking abilities as our brains remain capable of learning throughout life. Studies have shown that even in older adults, acquiring a new language can have positive effects on cognitive function. I cite here Research by Michael Merzenich and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, which demonstrated the brain's capacity for neuroplasticity, or its ability to reorganise and adapt throughout our lives. This means that the brain can form new neural connections, throughout adulthood, in response to learning and experiences.

Also a study conducted by Angela Friederici and her team at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, found that older adults have the capacity to learn and process new languages, albeit with some differences in neural processing compared to younger learners.

It is also claimed that being multilingual elevates overall communication skills, not only in the new language but also in our first language. This proficiency may allow for better expression of ideas, a nuanced comprehension of communication, and a heightened ability to interpret various forms of expression.

In the job market, multilingualism is a powerful asset in our globalised world. Employers highly value candidates who can communicate effectively with international clients or partners. Travel also becomes a more enriching experience when armed with the local language, enabling deeper connections with locals and a smoother navigation of the culture.

There is personal growth to be derived from learning a new language. While the endeavour is challenging, the rewards are significant, boosting self-confidence and providing a strong sense of accomplishment. New access to resources, including books, films, articles, and websites, gradually becomes available as knowledge and skills are developed. During this development, an appreciation of multilingualism through language will be a coincidental benefit. This benefit in itself may facilitate global networking, enabling connections with others from whom other learning might be had. Learning a new language can be instrumental in personal relationships, professional collaborations, or even entrepreneurial ventures. Furthermore, learning a new language may foster cross-cultural competence, essential in our interconnected world, as it promotes empathy and understanding.

Learning a less commonly spoken language contributes to the preservation of cultural heritage and linguistic diversity, safeguarding the richness of human civilisation. Additionally, it offers mental health benefits, acting as a stimulating mental exercise and potentially delaying cognitive decline in later stages of life.

In essence, the value of learning a language transcends mere practicality. It enriches life by providing access to new experiences, perspectives, and connections. It is an investment in personal growth and global understanding, yielding lifelong dividends