News from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.

Learning languages is important

April 4, 2017

Language creates the biggest bond between people. It helps us express our feelings, thoughts and ideas in a way that is easily lost through nonverbal communication. Having the ability to speak a language provides us with the opportunity to form lasting relationships with people. Learning new languages will allow us to connect with people from different cultures, improve cognitive ability and open up more job opportunities.

Language is a main element of a society’s culture. It has the ability to convey traditions and cultural ties that cannot be understood without verbal communication. Learning a language is not limited to studying grammar rules or the alphabet, but it also encompasses the ability to learn about the behavior of the society and its customs.

In my IB Spanish class, we are taught to go beyond the constructs of the language and explore how the language influences the culture of Spanish speakers. The language permeates Latin American movies, television, songs and news. We are given assignments that allow us to discover more about the culture rather than devoting all of our time to conjugating verbs.

Learning a language in conjunction to the culture provides a more holistic approach to learning. It allows students to have a greater appreciation for other societies and learn from another culture. We become more globally-minded and cognizant of how we can benefit from international relations. Language has the power to connect people to a society outside their own where they can meet new people and gain a fuller understanding of the world.

Many studies have also found learning another language improves cognitive ability. Being bilingual or multilingual can provide the benefits of a longer attention span, a better memory and a decreased risk of cognitive decline due to advanced age. Bilingual people have better sensory and cognitive processing. It is easier for them to learn new vocabulary and master a third language quicker than a monolingual person can learn a second language. According to findings presented at a 2011 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, bilingual people may develop Alzheimer’s four to five years later than monolingual people.

In addition, it has become increasingly important in the job market to speak multiple languages. Individuals who are multilingual will be more appealing to employers because they have the ability to communicate with a greater number of people. Monolingual people are at a disadvantage because their conversations are limited to people who speak the same language as them. This makes employers more inclined to hire multilingual employees, because they will be the most beneficial. Companies are continuing to expand in foreign countries so mastering several languages will allow people to build relationships with people overseas. Being multilingual also provides people with the potential to make higher salaries than their monolingual counterparts.

There are no disadvantages to learning a new language. It helps people learn about a new culture and become more globally-minded, which is especially important in today’s society. Learning a new language also has the potential to improve cognitive development. Dedicating one’s time to mastering a new language may even delay the onset of diseases that destroy important mental functions. Bilinguals or multilinguals are also in higher demand in the job market because of their ability to communicate with more people than monolinguals. Learning a new language has many benefits that will have long-lasting effects.

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