Unless you were raised to be bilingual, speaking two languages can require years of study and hard work. Even once you’ve acquired a second language, it’s a case of use it or lose it. If you don’t regularly speak, read in, or listen to that second language, you’ll start to lose your fluency. However, all that hard work does pay off and there are many advantages to speaking a second language.

Read on to discover eight benefits of being bilingual.

 

1. The cognitive benefits are enormous

Research has shown that speaking a second language increases the activity in the frontal lobes of your brain, starting from a very early age. A study from the University of Washington measured the brain activity of toddlers exposed to two languages from birth.

The researchers found more activity in bilingual toddlers than their monolingual peers. However, if you weren’t taught two languages as a child, don’t worry! As adults, learning a second language improves your memory and multitasking abilities as well as your attention span and focus.

 

2. You adapt easily to different situations

As a bilingual person, you’ll be used to switching between different languages depending on context. Maybe you speak one language at work and another at home, or one language with your family and another with your friends. This linguistic flexibility helps your brain to adapt easily to change, meaning that new or unfamiliar situations – even ones that have nothing to do with language – don’t feel as challenging as they otherwise might.

 

3. You’ll be in the majority

Around the world, more than half of the world’s population – some estimates say 60% – 70% – speak more than one language. Moreover, there are many countries that have more than one official language, such as Canada, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, and South Africa. Even countries that are officially monolingual – like Spain – have more than one official language in regions of the country.

 

4. You’re protecting your brain against ageing

Studies of people with Alzheimers have confirmed that speaking a second language slows the onset of age-related brain disease. The extra work of learning a second language makes your brain stronger, for longer. The onset of Alzheimers in bilingual people was delayed by an average of five years. And good news – this cognitive protection works at any age, meaning that even if you don’t speak a second language, you can start language classes tomorrow and still reap the benefits!

 
8 Hidden Benefits of Being Bilingual |  Travelling will be easier for you | Oxford House Barcelona
 

5. Travelling will be easier for you

If your first or second language is one of the big world languages – especially English – then no matter where you go in the world, it is likely that you’ll be able to communicate.This will make travelling a lot easier for you! When you can communicate through a common language with the people around you, you’ll have a much more authentic experience than someone who is unable to speak to the local people.

 

6. You’ll be more attractive to a potential partner

More than three thousand people were surveyed across the UK and the USA to see how bilingualism is perceived. Over two thirds of the respondents said that being able to speak a second language makes people more attractive. Plus, speaking another language will open up your dating options to a whole new group of people. If you learn French, for example, you’ll be able to communicate with the 275 million people worldwide who speak French. That’s a lot of dates!

 
8 Hidden Benefits of Being Bilingual | Learn another language | Oxford House Barcelona
 

7. You’ll learn another language more quickly

Once you’ve mastered the grammatical complexities of not one but two languages, learning a third language is easier for you. A study from 2011 found that when it came to learning English, bilingual students outperformed monolingual students by 13% on their test results. It seems that speaking a second language improves the learning process of a third language.

 

8.You’ll gain a new perspective on the world

Ludwig Witterstein, an Austrian philosopher who himself spoke three languages, once said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Speaking a second language gives you access to cultures, experiences and traditions that you wouldn’t have without speaking that language. Bilingualism definitely broadens your horizons and gives you a new perspective on other cultures.

 

At Oxford House we offer both English and Spanish courses. So, if you’re interested in learning a second language (or a third!) head over to our website to find out more about all our upcoming courses.

Soon you’ll be receiving all the benefits of bilingualism too!

Glossary for Language Learners

 

Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Raised (adj):: taught by your parents during childhood.

To pay off (pv): to have a benefit.

Frontal lobes (n)): the front part of your brain.

Peer (n): someone on the same level as you.

Multitasking (n): doing two or more things at the same time.

To switch (v): to change from one thing to another.

Challenging (adj): difficult.

Onset (n): beginning.

To reap the benefits (exp): when something good happens after you have worked hard.

Common (adj): shared with someone else.

To perceive (v): to see something subjectively.

To outperform (v): to do better than someone else in a task, activity or exam.

To broaden your horizons (exp): to get, through learning or travel, a bigger knowledge of the world.

Key

adj = adjective

pv = phrasal verb

v = verb

n = noun

exp = expression


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Interested in taking an English course at Oxford House Barcelona? Check all the different English classes we can offer you, or our summer courses, and contact us for more information.

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