In today’s increasingly globalized world, it is important to learn the skills of cross-cultural communication. Additionally, not only is learning cross-cultural communication important, but so is the ability to speak a second language.
Today, approximately 1 in 5 Americans speak a second language other than English nationwide, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). However, according to the study, in larger cities there are higher levels of Americans speaking another language other than English due much to higher levels of immigration. Globally, in a study by François Grosjean it is estimated that more than half of the world’s population is bilingual.
Aside from being a useful skill in a globalized world, there are many benefits to learning a second language.
According to a study by the British Academy, the cognitive benefits of being bilingual or multi-lingual are many. Functions like attention and mental alertness appear to improve through an immersive process of learning a new language. People who speak a second language may also have improved memory, problem solving and critical-thinking skills, increased ability to multitask and better listening skills.
Connected with the cognitive benefits, there can also be health benefits to knowing a second language. According to the study by the British Academy, “language learning programs aimed at older populations may be an optimal solution for building cognitive reserve, because language learning engages an extensive brain network that is known to overlap with the regions negatively affected by the aging process.”
Additionally, in a study published in Neurology by researchers at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences showed that participants who spoke a second language were able to delay Alzheimer’s Disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia by four and a half years.
Not only is knowing a second language an important skill for careers, beneficial for one’s health and cognitive abilities, but this ability can help with open-mindedness.
Some may say that being in America where practically everyone speaks English all the time, that there isn’t a need to learn a second language.
According to CIS, in 2017 there was a record 66.6 million U.S. residents aged five and older that spoke a language other than English at home. It’s important to learn other languages in the U.S. to be more inclusive to these communities and people who speak more than English or are still in the process of learning English.
Also, to fight against that ethnocentrism, it is important to know more about the world outside of one’s own country. According to a study by the British Academy, it has been shown that individuals who speak more than one language often exhibit more empathy and a global mindset. The U.S. is comprised of people and Americans from all over the world, so it is important to learn more about each other’s cultures to create a more cohesive and understanding population. As language is the most direct connection to culture, it is important to learn them. In a study by Auburn University, foreign language study creates more positive attitudes and less prejudice toward people who are different than them.
Lastly, for those that wanting to get the ladies or men, according to a majority of Americans and Britons polled in a survey by language app Babbel, 71% of Americans and 61% of Britons believe speaking more than one language makes a person appear more attractive to others.