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Tired of squinting through tears just to read the subtitles of your favorite K-Drama scenes? Have you ever wondered what the words to “Despacito,” actually mean? Sure, your enjoyment of TV shows and pop songs may not be the best reason to sign up for a language class, but there’s a world of advantages learning a new language can give you. Here are five of them.
by Nathan Arciagal
Learning a new language takes time and resources, and you’re probably thinking, surely, no amount of K-Drama or Shakira fandom will make you want to spend your free time and your hard-earned money on learning Spanish, Korean, or any other language. Well, think again. Mastering another language is an investment that could yield many benefits to your finances, your health, even your growth as a person.
Never mind that many of us want to work in another country and learning that country’s language could spell the difference between success and failure but even if you have no plans of working abroad, there are tons of work opportunities here in the Philippines for people who speak languages other than English. BPOs, for instance, pay almost double the normal agent salary for someone who speaks Spanish fluently. There are also many opportunities for freelance online work for people who speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and Nihongo.
Sure, speaking English fluently doesn’t automatically make you smart but mastering it, and other languages for that matter, makes your brain healthier all around. There are many benefits of learning a foreign language: memory improvement, more rational decision-making, even preventing the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and dementia. What other activity is there—aside from working on those Sudoku puzzles—that is as fun and beneficial to your brain as learning a new language?
When you’ve learned the language of the country or province you’re visiting, even if it’s just a smattering of phrases, it increases the odds of you enjoying the trip. The chances of getting lost are slim, and it’s pretty comforting to know your precious vacation time won’t be spent deciphering directions and traveling aimlessly. Knowledge of the language also allows you to find the cheapest accommodations, the coolest places to visit, and the best deals for souvenir shopping. Haggling is so much each easier if you and the seller are speaking the same language.
Being able to speak another language is a skill, and people are generally appreciative of skills. When you speak other languages, you impress both those who speak them, and those who don’t. You suddenly seem a bit worldlier, wiser, and people are generally more willing to connect with you. It also allows you to get to know all kinds of people, especially those who only speak the language you just learned—those whom you never would have gotten to know otherwise. Who knows, maybe the only thing standing between you and your “The One” could be a summer of French lessons?
Can you imagine how much more emotion you could put into those K-Pop songs you belt out if you knew what the words actually meant? Or how it would be much more enjoyable to watch your favorite anime without the annoying dubbed voices or subtitles? You get to appreciate other cultures more, and as you do, you become more open-minded, more understanding of our similarities and differences, and it just generally makes you an all around better person.