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This Is Why You Should Learn Foreign Languages

Knowing a second language is always useful. If you’re a native English speaker, you might think that you don’t need to learn another one because the whole world speaks your native language. However, you might be surprised to learn that native English speakers who are monolingual actually have more difficulties than non-native speakers when it comes to communicating internationally. They often have a hard time understanding what others are trying to tell them and in turn, they themselves can’t express what they want to say.

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“With languages, you are at home anywhere.”

 – Edward De Waal

Some companies go as far as hiring people who speak English non-natively for big projects because studies have shown that communication in these types of teams is better, the members of the team get along great, and the work is done more efficiently.  On the other hand, when they bring in native speakers, that leads to miscommunication, since they often use various words that the non-native speakers don’t understand even though they’re fluent. And that person, in turn, wouldn’t understand the non-native speakers as they would use accents that the native speaker isn’t used to.

Let us look at how learning a foreign language actually makes you a better communicator in English and why you’re at a horrible disadvantage if you’re monolingual.

 Learning a foreign language can make you more aware of how your own language works

You, of course, understand how the language you speak works. You know how tenses work, why a certain noun is a plural, and another is singular and understand all of the phrases and idioms. For example, to you, it’s perfectly normal to say that you’re as sick as a dog, that you have the blues, or that it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Now, think about how every other language has other phrases just like these that don’t make any sense when you translate them literally.

Therefore, if you’re a native speaker, you’re probably surprised when non-native speakers don’t understand what you’re trying to say. If you, however, learn a second language, you will start to realize how different it is than yours — they construct their sentences much differently than the English speakers do. By doing that, you’ll start to be more knowledgeable about your own language, and you’ll probably understand those international English speakers better.

 It can make you a better interpreter of body language

The next time you talk to a person whose native language isn’t English, you should pay some special attention to their body language. Non-native speakers are usually tense and alert when speaking English, or any other language because they’re working hard to understand the body language and context cues when a series of unfamiliar words are fired at them. These people do this subconsciously, but if you learn how to interpret the body language, you’ll understand what someone has to say to you much easier, even without knowing every pronounced word.

 It can actually expand your English vocabulary

All of the languages that are spoken over the world haven’t always been in the form they are now. A lot of them have similar “ancestor” languages. This is why you can probably pick up a few familiar sounding words in a language you don’t speak. So, if you choose to learn a language that has similar roots as the English language, you’ll probably learn some words that you might not have known that are used in English as well but aren’t very common. Some languages that are easy to be learned because they are similar to English are French, Spanish, Italian, German. On the other hand, Chinese, Japanese, and Hindi are quite difficult to learn.

 It can make you more likable

When you’re bilingual, especially if you’re a native English speaker, you’ve probably realized when talking to people how interested they become when you tell them you speak more than one language. Sometimes you can even impress them by switching from one language to another effortlessly. It can bring respect, and also some gratitude from someone whose native language you’ve learned.

People feel as if you appreciate their language and culture if you’ve taken the time to learn it. And if nothing else, speaking more than one language offers more job opportunities and broadens your horizons.

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