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Benefits of Foreign Language Learning

Learning of a Second or a Third Language – whether in a formal or an informal context, and at any age – is becoming increasingly popular in our present times. Several reasons account for this wave of change in attitudes towards languages, but the main reason is most probably that linguists, paedagogues, policy-makers and the masses at large have begun to understand the neuro-cognitive benefits of Language Learning.

Benefits to Young Learners

In effect, advanced researches and studies in linguistics and paedagogy carried out over the years have shown that children who learn a Second or Third Language grasp linguistic concepts such as homonyms and homophones, or even grammatical rules, faster and earlier than their monolingual counterparts. Hence, child development scholars and linguists constantly promote foreign language learning as part of the mainstream educational system and at the earliest possible stage. These highly influential experts support the contention that children who are adequately exposed to two or more languages at an early stage in their life are more flexible and creative, and they tend to demonstrate greater cognitive development and divergent thinking than monolingual children.

Overall, the learning of a language that is not the mother tongue is believed to play an important role in the development of the Right Brain and in tapping the most of its creative potentials. Indeed, scientific observations have led to the thinking that the passage to a superior level of knowledge requires some kind of harmony to be achieved between the two hemispheres of the human brain while they work in complicity to make observations about the world around us. This is precisely why foreign languages are becoming core subjects in the school curriculum in so many countries of the world. Young learners exposed to multiple languages right from early childhood even demonstrate superior logical and mathematical skills. Therefore, parents concerned about the academic progress of their child should encourage the latter to learn one or more foreign languages.

Adult Learners

Scientific facts bear unquestionable evidence that the process of learning a foreign language at an advanced age helps rejuvenate brain cells, which can prevent risks of Alzheimer or, though at an initial stage, counteract the process of gradual memory loss associated with ageing. In truth, memory loss is not directly related to old age itself, but rather to the growing latency of the memory due to underutilization of the brain. Yet it is important to keep our neurons active all the time as we will need our memory for as long as we will live. It is therefore absolutely necessary that we preserve as well as perpetually feed our memory. In most cases, a decrease in intellectual performance and memory are mere results of underutilization of the brain. Temporary memory losses often imply that the retentive capacities of the brain are not being solicited enough. When used sparsely, the brain regresses. The monotonous activities and routine occupations that we perform in our daily life mobilize the same cerebral regions. As a result, the other regions fall asleep. Intellectual stimulation through foreign language learning contributes to preserve and enhance capacities of reflection as well as memory in young and adult learners alike. After all, it is scientifically proven that the process of language learning requires the joint efforts of several segments of the human brain.

Moreover, foreign language learning now plays an active part in a range of careers such as in the tourist sector, in education, in linguistic services such as translation, or in Business Process Outsourcing. Foreign language learning is also a vital tool in rapidly internationalizing business scenarios, and in the global community as a whole. In the present globalized world, learning one or more foreign languages opens up international career prospects and business solutions, while harmonizing human interactions at the international levels. Present day government policies oftentimes include the fostering of foreign language learning facilities for adult learners with a view to promote cultural tolerance, develop the offshore sector, and strengthen diplomatic ties. Nowadays, foreign language learning is even being incorporated into employees training programmes due to the proven fact that it increases productivity. Besides, learning the language of the host country can be highly beneficial to the traveler as it caters for a smoother travel / stay in foreign countries, whether for work or leisure.