Anyone listening to a language they don’t understand has, to some degree, a little voice in the back of their mind saying “there is no way anyone can understand that! It’s gibberish.” Bilinguals are able to squelch that voice fairly quickly with, “that’s what I use to think about language x, now I can’t help but understand it.” Once a person has done something before, it becomes demystified to a point, making it more feasible and therefore easier to obtain. This is one reason the third language is easier for bilingual children, but I digress.
Monolinguals, however, having never conquered a language, feel that it is just absolutely outside of their realm of possibility. They think it would be impossible to speak another language, they can’t even differentiate the sounds the person is making. It all sounds the same. They know the word for “to want” (querer) but they can’t understand when the person speaking says it! It’s impossible! This is an overestimation. Picking out the various sounds comes with time and exposure to the language.
Even without thinking about it for more than two seconds, it is obvious there are many huge benefits of being bilingual.One of the benefits of being bilingual is that as soon as people hear that they speak “another language” they become immediately impressed and automatically assume that the person is incredibly intelligent. But when you do dig deeper, that’s when the magic happens! It is simply incredible what knowing a second language can do for you. Here are most amazing benefits of being bilingual that will make you appreciate this life advantage a lot more.
1. More Windows to The World
One of the best benefits of being bilingual is that it opens whole new worlds for you, enriching your life. When you speak two languages fluently, you can more easily learn about other cultures and social behaviors, and you integrate better wherever you go. Plus, just imagine how much more fun traveling abroad can be when you don’t have to turn into a professional mime just to find out where the ladies’ room is!
2. Neat Emotional And Social Benefits
According to the American Psychiatric Association, bilinguals are generally more tolerant towards other races or cultures and embrace diversity more easily than monolinguals. Also, they are less prone to self-esteem issues, loneliness or anxiety, and they argue, fight and active impulsively less often. You could say life as a bilingual is full of rainbows and pink unicorns.
3. Easier to Get a Good Job
The world is getting closer and closer to globalization, and companies become more international. Thus, as a bilingual, you can be an extremely valuable «asset» for business and networking, and you’ll have a much easier time finding a good job. What’s more, U.S. statistics say that, on average, bilingual people earn considerably more than monolinguals.
4. Easier to Learn a New Language
As if bilinguals weren’t awesome enough already, it seems that they can also learn a third language much more easily. I guess once you’ve done something before, it becomes a mere routine. The fact is that languages seem to reinforce one another, providing better tools to strengthen language learning skills and improving cognitive functions.
5. Better Task Switching
Because of constantly having to switch between a language and another, bilinguals develop much better task switching skills than people who speak only one language. Does this mean we have lots of modern-day Napoleons around us waiting to conquer the world? Well, not exactly. However, this does mean bilinguals have improved driving skills, are better at team sports, and make more efficient project managers.
6. Better Problem Solving And Decision-Making
Recent studies have shown that being bilingual improves the executive function of the brain. In plain English, this means that people who speak a second language are better at planning and solving problems, can ignore distractions and stay focused longer, as well make decisions – good ones – more easily. It is not yet clear why this happens, but scientists believe it is because they have a higher ability to monitor their environment.
7. Improved Brain Health
Out of all these amazing advantages of being bilingual, the one I love the most is that, when you get older, you have much better chances to be that alert, witty and joyful granny the whole family loves. How so? Well, the almost magical effects of bilingualism also extend into your twilight years. According to neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan, the higher your proficiency in a second language is, the more resistant to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related symptoms you will be when you’re older.
“Think of the dumbest person you know. They speak at least one language fluently.”
Go speak your language. Regardless of your level of bilingualism, get out and speak it today! Better yet, speak it to your kids. Make a fun game, name some stuff around the house, whatever. Just do it! Sign up for a free course, take lessons on skype, buy a book, do something! Don’t let this benefit of being bilingual slip away!