Hola Language Lovers!
Those of us who enjoy languages know full well why we end up taking classes, studying courses and learning the lingo, but every now and then even the most dedicated linguists amongst us end up pondering the question: Where is all this getting me in life?
At moments like this it helps to remember the good times! Kaplan International recently published an infographic (coming at the end of the post) that nicely summarises a number of scientific studies on the benefits of being bilingual. Here a 4 of the key benefits you can call on when you need a little motivation and I’ll let you decide the order of importance! Let’s dive in…
1. Bilingual people are sexy!
It’s official, a whopping 270 British dating agencies agreed that people who speak a foreign language are more attractive. Good to know right? Of course, you’re not that vein but just for reasons of delivering the whole story, let’s take a look at which accents are the sexiest! In no particular order (we wouldn’t want to make each other jealous)…
- Brazilian Portuguese
- British (Woohoo for me!)
So how about that for improving your chances of finding love? If that’s not enough, consider this; 63% of people surveyed stated that they had previously dated someone who speaks a different language. It seems the language of love can overcome the language barrier after all. Or perhaps that’s an unfair presumption as the data doesn’t show how many of those people are still together.
2. Learning languages makes you smarter
Of course we all know that speaking another language makes you sound smarter, but does it actually make you smarter? It appears so for students at least! “Students who study a foreign language for 4 or more years outperform their classmates”, so keep going if you’re in year 3. What’s more, according to the data, 5 great sub-benefits have been identified in the area of intelligence:
- Health (wow!)
A health improvement as well as an intelligence boost, not bad. It’s reported that people who speak at least 2 languages are 4 times less likely to have cognitive impairment. I’m no doctor but time to bust out that Michele Thomas CD! Still skeptical? Okay, I admit I am too, but who cares; 95% of people surveyed think that learning a second language would improve their brain power and as long as we think positively about our learning experience, positive things will surely follow.
3. Travel gets easier and more fun
Everyone loves to play around with the lingo while travelling abroad, especially in areas like Europe where the cultural variety over relatively small areas is so diverse. Whether you’re a student, an expat, a businessperson or anything in between, speaking the native language can help you to:
- Save money
- Stay safe
- Order everyday things like food and drink
- Get a job
- Make friends
When we look to the US as an example market, the number of US students who studied abroad for credit increased by 300% over the last 20 years and globally, each year the number of international students is now increasing at a rate of 12%, with around 800,000 in 1975 and 3.5 million in 2009.
With enormous study abroad potential and 97% of respondents agreeing that language makes travelling to other countries easier, travel is a great driver of language learning.
4. Boost your earning power
Ever feel like your language skills are going unnoticed by your employer? It’s never nice to feel undervalued but here are some figures that might cheer you up. Over a third of businesses want people specifically for their language skills. Your skills are clearly sought after and valued by businesses the world over so don’t let them tell you your skills are nothing special. Multilingual employees can expect a salary uplift of 20% in certain jobs so perhaps it’s time to look into this a little deeper before your next pay review? Not sure if you’re in the right sector, well here are 6 key sectors where language skills are highly valued:
- Computer games design
A huge 97% of people surveyed thought that learning a second language would help their career and the data seems to reflect this, although not all of us are as fortunate with our employers.
Want to be a sexier, smarter, happier travelling millionaire? Forget becoming a celebrity and pick up that phrase book today! You never know how far your love on language can take you but when the destination seems a little out of reach, just remember that the journey matters just as much and take inspiration from your own self improvement.
Important disclaimer: The author makes no guarantee that you will get more dates by reading this post. In fact, he can’t promise you will get smarter, richer or better travelled but good luck trying language lovers!
If you’d like a little further reading on the subject, check out this interesting post from The Guardian newspaper which includes some more really interesting health benefits of bilingualism.
So what about you? Have you already had one of those where is this getting me moments? Maybe you can share another great benefit with the language community? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
About the author
Greg Hamilton is a serial expat and Founder of Setlr.com, a website that gives bilingual people the opportunity to get paid by giving a little of their time to help those of us who get stuck with the language barrier in everyday life. You can reach Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback or suggestions for future articles.