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Posted Oct. 9, 2013

5 Reasons for Postgrads to Learn a Language

There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world. While many of these languages are not commonly spoken or taught, students can reap a great number of benefits from learning a foreign language. These benefits range from personal and academic to occupational and economic. Below you will find the top 5 reasons why it has become absolutely essential to be bilingual or multilingual in this day and age: Economic and Occupational Benefits As everyone knows, the competition in the job market is getting more and more fierce everyday. Learning another language will give you a communicative and cross-cultural advantage, which means more employment opportunities . This is true not only for overseas employment prospects but also for your native country since organisations operating internationally demand employees who can communicate with people all over the world.

In a survey of 581 alumni from the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona, most participants claimed that they had gained a competitive edge because of their knowledge of foreign cultures and languages. According to these participants, knowing an additional language was not only a critical factor during their hiring; it also positively influenced their career paths and provided cultural enlightenment.

Social and Cultural Benefits Culture and language are intertwined. Whichever language you learn, it will teach you a great deal about the culture and society in which its spoken. Whether it is explicitly through words, popular sayings, music, books, TV or movies, the societal values that you will acquaint yourself with will be far more beneficial in the real world than just grammar and vocabulary. It will allow you to be outside your cultural comfort zone, eliminate cultural prejudices and stereotypes, broaden your horizon and give you a whole new perspective on how to interact with other people. During the process, you will certainly become more aware of your own cultural identity as well.

Cognitive and Learning Benefits Learning a second language will give you a better understanding of your native language and will enhance your cognitive abilities. It will improve your ability to multitask and solve problems. As a bilingual student, you will generally be quicker in engaging the brain’s main control centres, simply because you can think and speak in both languages.

Strong evidence from a number of researches suggests that time spent on learning a foreign language strengthens core areas of reading, social studies and mathematics. Students learning foreign languages consistently outperform those who are not learning a foreign language in core subject areas of tests.

In addition to these cognitive benefits, bilingualism will also improve your native language skills since your first natural reaction to learning a new language is to compare it to your native tongue. You will start noticing similarities and differences in structure and mechanics. According to a study of 13,200 students in Louisiana public school, students taking foreign language classes performed better on the English section of basic skills test than those who did not.

Establishing Connections and Networking Benefits Knowing a foreign language helps expand your network of contacts. If you live in a diverse community or study alongside students from different cultures, make an effort to speak to them in their native language even if you are not too good at it. This shows that you are interested in making friends with them. If nothing else, you might just get a good tutor.

Nowadays on social networking platforms, members from around the globe speak a variety of languages. Knowing their language allows you to reach out to them and thus expands the geographical scope of your connections and relationships.

Personal Growth Like every new thing, learning a language is challenging and certainly not something everyone is determined enough to achieve. However, the daunting process is what makes it so fulfilling; knowing that you have a skill that can help you navigate on your own and communicate to people from other cultures. The feeling provides a sense of security, comfort, confidence and independence, even if you are out of your comfort zone.

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