Why learning a second language can help students achieve other academic goals


Learning a new language brings a whole range of interesting benefits, but how can they be applied to academic goals? The truth is there are plenty of ways that picking up a second language can help a student to progress across other disciplines.

There are plenty of ways that picking up a second language can help a student to progress across other disciplines. (Pixabay)

Improved problem-solving ability

For some students, learning a new language is a solitary experience that involves lots of audio clips and watching TV shows/films in another language with English subtitles. However, there are increasingly more interactive means of learning languages. For example, people favor getting one-to-one language lessons online, especially as students. This is because the arrangement allows students to learn on a flexible basis around other classes and it’s an affordable alternative with a student discount that makes it cheaper to take additional classes. In addition, having a personal tutor can help to further tailor the experience to a student’s needs.

Regardless of one’s learning style, the mutual outcome is a new language mastery that provides great benefits.

After learning a new language, students’ brains start to work differently. This is something they probably won’t even notice in any sort of conscious way, but helps with cognitive processes like problem-solving. Some sources suggest that a person’s brain grows bigger and the grey matter becomes denser when they start to speak a different language for the first time. That indicates the brain is operating at a healthier capacity. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to matter at what age a person starts to learn a new language, as people of all ages receive similar mental benefits.

Studying for other subjects at the same time as taking language classes can be a huge boost: some studies suggest that the ability to focus and pay attention are substantially improved by the experience of learning new words in a different language. Of course, a heightened concentration span is invaluable to any student as it makes it much easier to retain information in classes and means less time re-learning or revising in the lead-up to finals!

Enhancing memory

A better memory is another of the benefits to be gained from learning a language. It seems that the process of learning new words helps use other parts of the brain that people don’t normally activate. The way people store words and remember new grammatical rules are both carried out differently according to the language being spoken, so it makes sense that being exposed to different languages turns the brain into a more flexible and powerful tool.

Some research suggests learning a language helps to stimulate the brain in such a way that it becomes easier to retrieve specific information. However it works, it seems to be clear that there is a link between memory function and the language being spoken.

Some worry that studying a language will distract from learning other subjects, but this doesn’t seem to be the case at all. Everything points to the mental benefits of language lessons enhancing the ability to learn other things more effectively by allowing the narrowing a person’s focus so they can avoid distractions.


Feel more confident

The final benefit to learning a second language is one that will stay with you for life: confidence.

Becoming bilingual instills an extra degree of confidence in that it’s generally quite an impressive feat to pick up a new tongue with fluency. However, the doors that a new language can open are unlimited in that you can enjoy traveling with the confidence that there will be little to no language barriers, or even set your sights on working abroad comfortably.

Regardless of why you start learning a new language, you will find that your confidence in yourself grows as you become better at it. This is sure to be reflected in your other studies, as you begin to believe in yourself more and understand that you have the capacity to learn large amounts of new information.

There is no doubt that learning new language skills is something that will enhance your life and studies. If you haven’t yet started, now is a great time to consider doing this and getting all of the benefits we have looked at here.

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