Why Learn a Second Language?

“If you’re tri-lingual, you speak three languages.  If you’re bilingual, you speak two languages.  If you speak one language, you’re American.”  I don’t remember where I heard this statement, but it seems to be true for millions of Americans.  When I went to Jamaica, the staff at the resort spoke English and patois.  Most of the French that I encountered in Paris, spoke fluent English in addition to French.   I took French in college but only learned enough to pass the class.  I’ve attempted to take French a few times since I graduated from college but never completed a course.  2015 will be the year that I finally become fluent in conversational French. So why bother to learn now?

First, it is something I’ve always wanted to do.  Learning a second language will allow me to accomplish a goal that has been on my to-do list for decades.

Second, I’m considering 80 year old me.  Several studies have shown that knowing a second language delays the onset of dementia by four or five years.  Learning a second language improves memory and reasoning.[1] The more I work my brain now, the stronger it will be in 30 years.

Third, I’m a lifelong learner.

Fourth, I want to spend a month living in France.  I want to return to France and spend full days at museums or hours at side walk cafes.  I look forward to taking a train through the countryside.  When I encounter French people, I want to speak their language in their country.

Those are my main reasons.  So why should you learn a second language?

Discipline.  It will take discipline to take a class whether in person or online.  The more you discipline yourself with learning a new language, the more discipline you will have for other endeavors such as eating right or saving money.

New Friends.  You could join a group to learn how to speak a second language, or you could join a group to practice your new language.  To find a group, check on www.MeetUp.com.

Affordability.  It is more affordable than ever to learn a second language.  You could take a 12-13 week class at a local college for less than $300.  Or you could try a DVD/CD program such as Rosetta Stone.  Did you know that you could hire a tutor to work with you on Skype?  Check out www.TakeLessons.com to find an instructor.

Impress Prospective Employers.  Most job applications ask if you speak a second language.  If you have some proficiency in a foreign language, this skill could give you an edge over other job applicants.

Whether it’s French, Yoruba, Chinese or some other tongue, consider all the benefits of being bilingual and commit today to learn a second language.


[1] Visit www.WashingtonPost.com and search for the article “A Second Language May Help Sustain the Brain” by Kathryn Doyle.  Do a Google search to read dozens of other articles on this subject.

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