How learning a new language affects you on an individual level
It is known, today more than ever, that extending one’s linguistic knowledge to include more than one language is highly beneficial. With the world being a small village and its nations opening up to each other, it has become required to master languages in order to guarantee better communication with interlocutors speaking different tongues, especially in business-related contexts.
In fact, career development remains to be the strongest motive for many language learners, considering that multilingual are admittedly more likely to land better job opportunities. However, studying languages has more to offer in terms of advantages than just boosting one’s career. As a matter of fact, it actively sharpens the overall functioning of the brain by increasing the IQ level, toning creativity, and improving decision-making skills as well as long-term memory.
All these benefits relate to cerebral performance, which is a rather expected outcome. Learning a new language is an activity that engages the brain. For the most part, thus it is not surprising when it has an impact on it. The same logic can’t really be applied to the relationship between language studying and acquiring social skills. Yet, studies prove that the aforementioned liaison exists.
How learning a new language affects you as a member of the society
In a study conducted in 2016 and covering a sample of 240 adults, the participants were divided into two groups: 120 monolinguals and 120 bilinguals. The goal was to measure the levels of empathy among the volunteers by considering two perimeters: The ability to recognize the emotional state of other people (cold empathy) and the instance of experiencing the same emotional state as observed in other people (hot empathy). The research concluded that bilinguals show higher empathy levels, both cold and hot.
Moreover, it suggested that bilingualism is associated with more potent social intelligence and awareness, making individuals better equipped to navigate society effectively and benefit their communities.
The aforementioned conclusion leads us to an important fact: language is much more than a set of words used to communicate. It is a major cultural component that carries within its structure and rules traces of its people’s history, customs, and traditions. As a consequence, learning a language is an inlet toward a whole culture and a way to understand its speakers better, not just on the literal level but on a deeper one that stretches to their culture.
In much simpler terms, he who speaks his interlocutor’s tongue has a better chance of communicating his message successfully. The interlocutor will also feel more closeness to someone who speaks the same language, will relate to them, and will be more likely to appreciate the conversation being carried on.