There are about 7,000 languages spoken across our planet. From the Indo-European languages of Europe and South Asia, to the Niger-Congo languages of central Africa, to the Sino-Tibetan languages of Southeast Asia, mankind has created an expansive menagerie of ways to vibrate our vocal cords to impart information to others.Yet, it’s all too common that American students know only how to speak and understand English. Knowing a foreign language has a multitude of astounding benefits for the modern university student.
1.) Expand your resources for communication
Only about a quarter of the people on this planet speak any English at all. That being said, by only having the ability to speak or understand English, a person is robbed of the opportunity to share knowledge with 75% of our species.
2.) Learn more about the cultures that interest you
Perhaps you’ve always had an interest in the culture of Spanish-speaking Latin America, or your Cantonese-speaking grandparents hail from Hong Kong. By learning the language of another culture, you are enabling yourself to engage in its practices through a more authentic lens. This gives you the ability to read the culture’s texts and communicate first-hand with the members of your culture of interest.
3.) Improve your brain’s efficiency
Results from scientific studies have led us to believe that knowing more than one language trains your brain to better be able to disregard irrelevant information and improves the brain’s working memory. Possibly as a result of this neurological tune-up, people who use more than one language at work tend to earn about 8% more than the average person working with only one language.
4.) Expand your employment opportunities
I, personally, have benefited from my knowledge of a foreign language. I previously worked in a Mexican restaurant in which it was required that I communicate with many of the customers and workers in Spanish, as a significant portion of our clientèle was composed of immigrants with little to no knowledge of English.
5.) Enjoy the cultural and artistic significance of foreign languages
From a cultural, artistic, and linguistic point of view, languages are just really freakin’ cool. There’s a certain allure in having a linguistic connection to another culture. Every language has an intrinsic beauty that is attractive simply because of the aesthetic of the language, be it the poetic structure of Urdu, the beautiful written alphabet of Arabic, or the elegant simplicity of Esperanto verb conjugation. Personally, I’d most like to learn Latin, Italian, Persian, Sumerian, and Sanskrit. What language will you be tackling this summer?
Photo credits: MentalFloss