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Why Should I Learn a Language?

December 12, 2014

Failure to gain fluency in a second language is commonly cited by people as one of their greatest regrets. Let’s face it though, learning a language is hard. It requires perseverance, commitment and dedication. Sometimes it can be a bit boring – learning all that vocabulary and those verbs!

Still, we all know the benefits of learning a new language: better job prospects, reading the greats in the original version, improving our mind, etc. But actually, we may be vastly underestimating these benefits! 
Here are 10 facts about language learning to inspire you! (Source: Middlebury College):
1.       Students who study a world  language for just one year score an average of 38 points higher on the SATs. (Even cooler: Students who took four years of a world language showed scores that were more than 100 points higher on average.)
2.       The National Institutes of Health discovered that people who speak more than one language are much better at multitasking.
3.       According to an MIT study, people who know two or more languages earn an average of $128,000 more in their lifetimes.
4.       In 2012, researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered that people who know two languages are nicer. According to the research, bilingual folks are better able to tolerate differences and find solutions to conflict!
5.      More than 800 11-year-olds were tested on their cognitive ability in Scotland in 1947. Between 2008 and 2010, those same people were retested when they were in their seventies. Of the 835 case studies, 260 knew at least two languages. Those 260 people tested significantly higher in cognitive function than their solely English-speaking peers.
6.       In a Florida study, kids who knew two languages scored an average of 23 to 34 points higher on both math and language arts standardized tests than kids who only spoke one language.
7.       Babies raised in bilingual homes demonstrated superior cognitive ability—specifically the ability to seek new stimuli more quickly—as early as 7 months old. (And according to the National Academy of Sciences, that’s an early indicator of a high IQ.)
8.       54% of preschool-age bilingual children are able to easily distinguish the meanings of words. (Most children aren’t able to do this until elementary school.)
9.       People who know more than one language are able to pay attention for 20% longer on average than their one-language speaking friends. (Now that certainly would come in handy during a long class period, wouldn’t it?)
10.   Bilingual people have 0.05 cubic millimeters of gray matter in the parietal regions of their brains. (In plain English, people who speak more than one language have more dense gray matter in their brains, making them smarter.)