The majority of the world’s population is multilingual – many speak three or four languages. Yet, us Britons admit to only speaking English when we’re abroad – in fact, thousands of Brits surveyed in research from Holiday Hypermarket admit to they would rather bring the UK abroad than entertain the local culture of an overseas destination.
But the benefits of learning a second language extend wider than just being able to order a taxi when you’re on a package holiday. Here are six reasons it’s worth expanding your mind and getting to grips with a new language…
1. You’ll make new connections
If you take the time to master even a basic ability in a foreign language, a whole new world of connections opens up to you when you travel. It’s not about getting the grammar and pronunciation perfectly right – many locals will be impressed and surprised that you’ve made the effort to pick up their lingo, meaning a connection is likely to come much more easily. This might not only add a new dimension to your holiday, but lead to new friendships, business contacts – or even romance!
2. You can get off the beaten track
Many Brits believe that wherever they go on holiday, they can get by speaking English, so there’s no point in learning any other languages. And you can pretty much get away with this – if you stick to popular tourist resorts and hotels on your package holiday. But if you want to venture off the beaten track to explore more remote, less tourist-friendly locations, knowing the local language is an absolute must.
3. It makes you smarter
It’s true – research has found that multilingual people are better able to multi-task than people who only speak one language. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, bilingual individuals become smarter as they get used to working in two different language systems. It’s also a good way to improve your memory – bilinguals are better at retaining shopping lists and names. Your brain will just love the exercise!
4. You’ll open your mind to a new culture
If you decide to take the plunge and learn a new language, you’ll find yourself able to do so much more than just making conversation. When you start being able to read in another tongue, a whole new world of culture becomes available to you. Newspapers, books, stories, poetry – you’ll gain the unique pleasure of being able to read in the author’s original language and forget all about the translations (which can never quite compare!).
5. It can delay Alzheimer’s
It’s fascinating, and it’s true: several studies have revealed that for adults who speak just one language, the average age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. But for those who speak two or more languages, the average age for those first signs goes up by more than four years, to 75.5. Another really compelling reason to give this new language thing a go.
And finally… you’ll improve your English
It might sound strange, but learning a second language can actually help your mastery of your native tongue, too. You’ll be brushing up on all that grammar you learned at school – verbs, nouns and adjectives – and you’ll find different ways of expressing ideas and thoughts in your words.
Have we convinced you? Looks like it’s time to get down to your local college and sign up for those French lessons. Bonne chance!