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9 reasons why you should learn a foreign language

29th October 2015

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Having knowledge of one or more foreign languages is increasingly beneficial in today’s society, says French language student Emily Maybanks. Here's why... 

1. When you're looking for a job

One of the main advantages of foreign language knowledge is that it looks excellent on a CV, as well as showing that a person is willing to make the most of extra opportunities given to them. It is useful when applying for jobs and attending job interviews because it can prove to a prospective employer willingness and ability to learn. When applying for jobs in the hospitality sector, foreign languages can be particularly useful for communicating with foreign guests in hotels and restaurants.

2. For your long-term career prospects

Similar to the fact that learning foreign languages improves a person’s CV, another benefit is that languages can open the doors to a huge variety of employment opportunities. These jobs can range from teaching - teaching English as a foreign language or teaching a foreign language, for example.

There is also the possibility of working in any sector, with the necessary qualifications abroad, from retail to hospitality. Employment within the travel and tourism sector is a popular choice for people with knowledge of a foreign language. Writing, editorial, journalism and other similar media jobs are aided through knowing a foreign language.

3. To build your skills

Communication skills are enhanced and improved with knowledge of foreign languages. The ability to speak another language can improve verbal and spoken communication skills. Listening skills are enhanced when learning languages and so are written communication skills. Similar to this, learning a foreign language improves knowledge of a person’s native language because learning languages draws focus to the mechanics of language such as grammar, sentence structure and formation, as well as tenses. There is an increased awareness of language in general, and the ways in which language can be structured and manipulated.

4. For your cognitive health

Learning one or more foreign languages has advantages in terms of health. These benefits include an improvement in memory and becoming more perceptive, a better observer of surroundings and human behaviour.

5. To increase cultural knowledge 

When learning a foreign language, not only is the learner studying the language but they are also learning about the culture of the country, or indeed countries in which that language is primarily spoken. An increased cultural knowledge is a huge advantage of language learning because it brings the language to life and gives the language a meaning and a purpose. Having a profound interest in the culture might well encourage people to travel abroad and experience the culture first-hand, which also provides an excellent opportunity to practice speaking the native language with local people.

6. To begin the cycle of language learning

Having knowledge of one foreign language makes it easier to learn another language if desired later on in life. The skills of learning foreign languages are already stored in the brain; therefore these skills can be re-used when learning a second or third language later on life. The structure of learning a second foreign language is very similar to learning the first one.

My experiences of language learning have had a positive impact on my life so far. I have enjoyed studying French at GCSE and A-Level and now at university, where I have also started to learn Italian, and I studied German for a year. It is interesting to see the links between the different languages and that the methods of learning new languages are similar to those I used when learning French for the first time, and I was surprised that I could pick up the new languages more naturally than I did with the French.

7. To improve your English 

I have been able to expand my English vocabulary through learning foreign languages.

8. To enhance opportunities for travel

Because I study languages at university, I am able to spend time living in Italy to improve my knowledge of the Italian language and culture, and also Geneva in Switzerland where I will be able to improve my French and learn about Swiss culture, whilst studying translation and interpreting modules at the University of Bologna and the University of Geneva.

9. And finally... for the love of it!

Personally, I find learning languages highly stimulating and very fascinating. I would recommend that people learn at least one foreign language because it is a truly fantastic opportunity and you can develop many skills as well as your confidence in expressing yourself in different ways.

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