Why Learning a Second Language is the Best Thing You Can Do

Learning another language can seem really intimidating from the start, but it can be a wonderful experience. One of my majors is Spanish, and while I am not yet fluent, the experience has been thoroughly enjoyable. Knowing a second language has opened up so many doors for me, and has given me opportunities that I would not have had if I did not know another language. But it has not only given me new opportunities; knowing Spanish has opened my eyes to new cultures, new traditions, and it has made me a more open-minded person.

 

Over the summer I had the opportunity to intern at an immigration law firm, with mostly Spanish-speaking clients. While this is not the path for everyone, and it certainly was not easy, I would not have had this experience if not for my ability to speak Spanish. I was able to better understand the struggles of immigrants, not only because I was working with them daily, but because I could also converse with them and hear their stories and be able to understand without having to go through a translator. Knowing a second language, any language, gives you the ability to speak with far more people and be more understanding of others.

Hola LED signageMany individuals from other countries know more than one language from a very young age, but it is not so common in the United States, especially among white populations. But knowing a second language can improve your memory, increase performance in other academic areas, and it made me better in my first language, which is English. I learned more about grammar, sentence structure, syntax after taking Spanish classes than I did from taking English classes throughout high school. Having to understand how to speak and write properly in Spanish forced me to understand how to do that correctly in English, so that I could understand the difference. My memory has also improved immensely since beginning to learn Spanish in seventh grade since vocabulary and verb tenses are so imperative to memorize. And after a couple of years, the vocabulary and verb tenses came just as easily as they do in English.

 

Spanish is such a prolific and widespread language, you can travel to so many places and be able to converse with the people there. From Spain to Mexico to Colombia to Argentina, you can travel all over and be able to speak with the people there. And the cultures in each place are so unique and special and different from one another, yet knowing Spanish alone can connect these countries together, and you can connect with all of these cultures simply through knowing the language. There are few languages that are spoken in as many countries as Spanish, but knowing any other language can connect you with people from all over. French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Mandarin, the list could go on forever. Given the fact there are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world, there is bound to be at least one other language, besides your native language, that you can fall in love with!

Peligro Warning signage on beach

There are so many languages spoken across the world, and knowing just one other language in addition to your native language can open so many doors and can connect you with so many new people and cultures. Learning a new language is exciting and fun, and allows you the ability to travel and converse with locals, and you are able to improve your native language through learning a second one. My biggest recommendation for people who want to learn another language is to just start and jump in. Immerse yourself in the language, through music and television shows, and try to speak it as much as possible. Shop around the languages to try and find the one that you fall in love with. You will be surprised by how beneficial it is to learn a second language, and how rewarding it is to succeed in another language.

 

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