Never Too Late to Learn: The Life-Changing Rewards of Learning a Second Language as an Adult
Human languages have been around for thousands of years. No matter what your native language is, it can always benefit you as an adult to learn an additional one (or two).
Learning a second language as a child is common since the language centers in the brain are at peak development in the early years. This may contribute to the notion that only children benefit from learning additional languages. However, this isn’t true.
In my life, my extensive knowledge of multiple languages has helped me more than I can describe. I am fluent in Spanish, Italian, and English, and the benefits of being multilingual cannot be overstated.
The Cognitive Benefits of Second-Language Learning
Learning languages is beneficial for brain flexibility. Even as an adult, you can reap numerous cognitive and neurological benefits from learning a new language.
Your brain has neural pathways that control speaking, thinking, reading, and writing. These pathways become reinforced over time with more use. As you learn a second language, you’ll create and strengthen new pathways that expand your brain’s capabilities.
Since you’re “exercising” your brain’s pathways in new ways, some research suggests that learning new languages as an adult sharpens your cognition as you age. This may help prevent age-related memory and thinking problems.
How Learning New Languages Opens You Up to a New Social World
Socialization is important for human health and happiness. When we connect with others on a deep level, we feel seen, heard, and understood. These benefits work both ways: We can make other people feel these positive emotions when we connect with them.
Being able to converse with people from different backgrounds and native languages is extremely valuable. You’re able to make friends and connect with business associates you wouldn’t have had access to before learning a second language.
Not only can you meet new friends in new places, but you can also learn more about the world around you. Being limited to one language’s perspectives and people can keep your social life stagnant. You learn more about the world and different cultures when you can speak in another’s native tongue.
Effective Communication Across the Board
Communication is key to your experiences as both a human and a professional. If you can communicate in ways that appeal and make sense to others, you have won the game. Language learning promotes effective communication in all areas of life.
Think about it: When you’re learning a new language, you have to spend lots of time listening to others speak. You put in countless hours learning pronunciations, listening to stories, and reading subtitles. These hours spent learning a new language can translate to enhanced communication throughout your life.
How to Get Started: The First Steps to Learning a New Language as an Adult
Don’t be intimidated by the language learning process. As an adult, you have access to any resources you find helpful. This access makes learning a new language much more attainable than you might think.
The internet is the most valuable tool for communicating with people who have experience with and knowledge of various languages. There are several programs, both paid and free, that help you learn the basics of almost any written language out there. You can easily get started with free trials or cheap monthly subscriptions.
Additionally, you can hire a paid tutor to guide you through your new language. The benefit of taking this step is that you get to see facial expressions and directly communicate with your teacher. Personalized language lessons are wonderful for language retention and memorization skills.
Take the Leap and Learn Something New
You don’t have to spend your life as a monolingual communicator. Take a chance on a new language as an adult — you never know what pleasant surprises might come your way!