Biology

Learning Languages 101: Top 5 Benefits and Top 5 Tips of Learning New Languages

Humans have diversified themselves through the means of several distinct features. Take, for example, bipedalism, the use of fire, and a brain with intelligence far beyond that of any of our non-human peers. 

These unique abilities are distinct yet not completely unique to homo sapiens. In 1981, remains of Homo erectus and Australopithecus were discovered to have been capable to use fire after discovering charred bones from 1 to 1.5 million years ago while the non-extinct Australian Firehawk is capable of using fire to intentionally cause wildfires. 

Ostriches, orangutans, and even beavers are capable of if not accustomed to bipedalism. Rauisuchia, a crocodylomorph from the Triassic period, have been proven to be capable of bipedalism as well.

The intelligence of dolphins and other cetaceans that have the closest known intelligence to humans. They are capable of complex actions such as feeling empathy, understand body language, and communicate in echolocation. 

So what really makes us unique? Many argue that the most distinctive and decisive difference between us humans and other animals is our ability to communicate in the form of languages. Today’s world has an array of languages, some with several exotic cultures. Languages allow us to express ourselves in ways that are unfathomable to any other known species in the entire universe. Join us on all the benefits of learning several languages!

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Top 5 Benefits of Learning Several Languages

1. Better Relationships and Networking

Language is an effective strategy to create relationships and meet new people from around the world in both professional and personal ways. Languages can help explore communities and opportunities undiscoverable by monolinguals. Travelling is an excellent example of an application of language; it helps to escape the tourist world of a country. Talking to locals and making friends in a new country can create new relationships and expand your professional or social network into a vast array of specialized people. Becoming a bilingual or a polyglot can even apply in your native country as the world becomes more and more diverse or immersed in all of its cultures.

2. Increase Brain Function

The correlation between language learning and brain function is undeniably real. Bilinguals and polyglots have better memory, decision-making skills, and more. Julia Morales of Granada University in Spain and her research team had conducted several memory-based experiments with mono- and bilingual children from the ages of five to seven. The study had shown that bilingual children did have an advantage in memory-based activities, especially those including executive functions; mental skills such as self-control and adaptable thinking. Albert Costa and his team had found that those who could speak several languages had been less likely to give into advertisements and deceptive information so thus, pointing to the evidence that polyglots are often more observant than monolinguals. Many other studies also point to the fact that linguistic skills in several languages are a major factor in increased brain functionality.

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3. Improving Academic Performance

As a result of brain function improvement, languages help students succeed academically in a variety of ways other than in the class of the language itself. According to College Board in 2004, those who had at least four years worth of a foreign language class had scored better on the SAT in all math and English categories by 100 points than their monolingual counterparts. Another study by Laura Horn and Lawrence Kojaku in 2001 discovered students in intense high school programs that included 3 years worth of foreign language study were less likely to drop out while being more likely to succeed academically in college than students in regular or less intense high school programs and its language studies. 

4. Exploring New Cultures

Every culture has a language. Appreciation for the language often leads to an appreciation for the culture, its arts, foods, and so much more! Exploring the world with these cultures can contribute to open-mindedness and networking. With new communities, the world opens up to you and new perspectives come into place. One culture’s point of view on a specific topic may be completely different from that of another’s, each with their respective beliefs and evidence. Not only do new communities become part of your world but opportunities that come with them. Whether you are exploring seas by Barcelona with its Catalan citizens or the corners of Paris with Parisians, knowing the language is a requirement to fully understand and immerse oneself into a culture and its opportunities, regardless of personal or professional.

5. Efficient Multitasking

Research from Penn State University discovered those that “juggle” languages can actually create a mind that is adept to multitasking. The researchers theorize that this enhanced ability to multitask when compared to people who can only speak one language is due to the negotiations and dependence of at least two languages in one’s mind to speak one. Slipping in and out or mentally utilizing more than one language contributes to this. Brian Gold and his researchers found the same result with the same speculation but after experimenting with bilinguals and monolinguals. By studying how each group handled a “perceptual switching paradigm”, they concluded that bilinguals were better at multitasking due to their superior performance at the switching task. Gold’s experiment also found through an fMRI that the bilingual participants required less activation while doing so. 

Top 5 Tips on How to Learn Several Languages

Being convinced that languages undoubtedly have their benefits is easy. The learning part, however, is often regarded as difficult, long, and tiring so here’s a list of five tips on how to learn languages.

  1. Implement the 80/20 rule. All languages have an abundance of words and yet not all words are used often enough to be deemed relevant. The 80/20 rule is essentially only learning 20% of the words in a language which make up 80% of a typical conversation. By using the 80/20 rule, you are emphasizing only the words that are most important and most used in your specific vocabulary. It keeps language learning productive and consistently applicable.
  2. Use free apps to expand vocabulary. For only a brief moment in time has there been a device capable of accessing such an excess of information on almost everything known to man. Utilise these resources to gain the most out of what you can achieve by yourself. Apps can often be used 24/7 and do not dependent on anything other than the battery life of the device you’re on. Albeit they are great for learning areas that are often missed in self-taught language-learning, they are only an aid to what should be a larger, more complex regiment. They are not to be depended on to teach an entire language and lack much of the fun that is available in other methods. 
  3. Make friends who speak the language and practice by talking with them. In today’s day and age, the world has become more connected than ever. We can communicate with people from anywhere on the globe with the tap of a button. For language-learning, this means that anyone can access anyone else in any country. Optimize your experience by texting or video-chatting with someone who knows how to speak the language you would like to learn. Many people have the technology today with the internet and thus gives way to creating relationships based off of a common language.
  4. Learn about the culture of those that speak the language. The most engaging way of learning the culture of those that speak the language is often by first hand and visiting. By using the culture of the language you would like to learn, you will likely find it fun and easier to learn. This can come in the form of cultural activities or participating in tasks that require linguistic communication. Immerse yourself in the cultures by exploring food markets, playing board games, or go to a museum in a country of your new language. 
  5. Feel free to make mistakes while you learn. Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes show that there are still things to learn and words that you can improve on. They do not signify that you lack the intelligence or that you are naturally bad at the language but how you are trying and are already making more progress than the majority of other people right now. Every mistake is one closer to fluency. 
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Works Cited

Choi, Charles Q. “Top 10 Things That Make Humans Special.” LiveScience, 25 Mar. 2016, 

www.livescience.com/15689-evolution-human-special-species.html. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Costa, Albert, et al. “‘Piensa’ Twice: On the Foreign Language Effect in Decision Making.” 

Cognition, vol. 130, no. 2, Feb. 2014, pp. 236–254., doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.11.010. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Czekala, Bartosz. “70 Amazing Advantages and Benefits of Language Learning (2020).” The 

Universe Of Memory, 7 Feb. 2020, universeofmemory.com/benefits-of-language-learning/. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Dell’Amore, Christine. “To Stave Off Alzheimer’s, Learn a Language?” National Geographic, 17 

June 2016, www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/2/100218-bilingual-brains-alzheimers-dementia-science-aging/#close. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Dolphins-World. “Dolphin Intelligence.” Dolphin Facts and Information, 26 Apr. 2017, 

www.dolphins-world.com/dolphin-intelligence/. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Gold, Brian T., et al. Journal of Neuroscience , vol. 33, no. 2, 9 Jan. 2013, pp. 387–396., 

doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3837-12.2013. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Hausheer, Justine E., et al. “Australian ‘Firehawk’ Raptors Intentionally Spread Wildfires.” Cool 

Green Science, 7 Mar. 2018, blog.nature.org/science/2018/01/12/australian-firehawk-raptors-intentionally-spread-wildfires/. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Horn, Laura, and Lawrence K. Kojaku. “High School Academic Curriculum and the Persistence 

Path through College: Persistence and Transfer Behavior of Undergraduates 3 Years after Entering 4-Year Institutions.” Education Scholastics Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 3, 2001, pp. 65–72. Accessed 07 June 2020.

“How Do Dolphins Communicate?” Whale & Dolphin Conservation USA, 16 Apr. 2020, 

us.whales.org/whales-dolphins/how-do-dolphins-communicate/. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Morales, Julia, et al. “Working Memory Development in Monolingual and Bilingual Children.” 

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 114, no. 2, 8 Oct. 2012, pp. 187–202., doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2012.09.002. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Srour, Marc. “Which Animals, Other than Humans, Stand Erect?” Quora, 11 Dec. 2012, 

www.quora.com/Which-animals-other-than-humans-stand-erect. Accessed 07 June 2020.

Stevens, William K. “Fossils Date Use of Fires 1 Million Years.” The New York Times, The New 

York Times, 1 Dec. 1988, www.nytimes.com/1988/12/01/world/fossils-date-use-of-fires-1-million-years.html. Accessed 07 June 2020.

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