Although the benefits of learning languages have always been undeniable, this is particularly clear in these times of unprecedented global interaction.
These days, multilingualism not only brings people closer to better educational, occupational and professional opportunities, but it also makes them more empathetic, helps them make better decisions and gives them confidence.
An Approach that Nourishes the Brain
“Learning a new language requires the use of extensive neural networks and can represent a powerful tool for reorganizing brain neuroplasticity,” advises a recent research from the University of Chieti-Pescara in Italy. The impact that multilingualism has in all stages of life — on children, adolescents, adults and even the elderly — is the subject of study; and all conclusions are positive.
“Some say that bilinguals are able to see the world through different lenses. These hypothetical lenses give way to the ability to choose. This ability is connected to the mind having the potential to be flexible to adapt to different life situations. Improved mental flexibility is key to developing fluid intelligence,” experts from the University of Jyväskylä pointed out.
On average, 91% of students in all countries and economies with available data reported that they were learning at least one foreign language at school. Source: OECD
Similarly, there are multiple research studies that stress intercultural communication skills, which provide greater sensitivity in that sense and allow for a more perceptive understanding of people. This includes understanding the world from different perspectives and promoting empathy.
In times when integration, inclusion and diversity are essential features, individuals with these skills will have a greater perspective on any situation they face.
The Growing Demand in Organizations
In addition to personal and social benefits, more companies require language skills. This talent is what enables organizations to enter new markets in a relevant manner and even connect with neglected local customers from diverse minority backgrounds.
Between 2010 and 2015, the number of job listings, in the U.S. specifically, targeting bilingual candidates doubled: in 2010, there were about 240,000 and, by 2015, that number had skyrocketed to, roughly, 630,000. Source: New American Economy
“Employers see a second language under your belt as a major advantage, and that may even be what sets you apart from other applicants,” Daniele Saccardi pointed out, Campaign Manager for Preply. In a study conducted this year, Preply, the educational app, found that, out of the 750,000 U.S. employers looking to include bilingual individuals, over 152,000 were looking for Spanish speakers; in other words, 1 in 5.
“Being multilingual also tells employers that the applicant is likely to have other characteristics, such as versatility, ambition and sensitivity to other cultures,” adds Saccardi. The University of North Georgia has compiled 25 reasons for which you should study foreign languages in a globalized world. These include:
– Immersing yourself in another culture allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your own culture.
– Skills such as problem solving and handling abstract concepts increase.
– Listening skills and memory improve.
– Your participation becomes more effective and responsible in a multicultural world.
– You become more flexible and tolerant, thus breaking down barriers between people.
Strengthening the brain, bonding more empathetically with others, gaining unique experiences, opening the mind to new ways of being and doing, as well as acquiring a more positive attitude are some of the benefits of going down the path of multilingualism. Future global socio-economic demands make multilinguals essential.