If you are considering taking Spanish as an elective in high school but you aren't sure about learning a second language, continue reading. In this article, we will tell you all the benefits of learning a second language at a personal, professional, and academic level.
To learn more about the subject check our guide to Spanish in high school.
Why it is important to know more than one language?
Learning a second language can be incredibly beneficial for several reasons. You'll have various opportunities available for you once you master a second or third language, but more on that later.
First, we would like to go into the ways your brain and cognitive performance would benefit from learning a new language. Your cognitive performance or cognition is the mental action of acquiring knowledge.
Three major things in your brain will improve while you learn a foreign language, your memory, problem-solving, and communication skills.
You'll improve and exponentiate your memory skills. In the process of learning an entirely new vocabulary, you'll train and exercise your hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for memory), and with time you'll make it stronger and faster.
Children learn a language easier because they learn it as their brain is developing, which means they absorb knowledge like sponges. However, if you learn a language at a much older age, you'll be forced to make an effort, since your brain won't absorb knowledge as children's brains do.
Nonetheless, we are not saying you can't memorize an entirely new vocabulary, you need to trust that you have the ability to do it! Besides, it all depends on your level and skills. It's not like you'll be asked to know 50 new words in your first week of class, it's all just a matter of time.
On the other hand, you'll also improve your communication and problem-solving skills because you'll rewire your brain to think in an entirely different and new language.
You'll become a better communicator because you'll rewire your brain to think differently which will give you tools to improve your communication in various aspects of your life.
Finally, you'll also gain awesome problem-solving skills because learning a language is all about solving puzzles in a foreign language. This constant exercise will result in creating new pathways in your brain that in the future you can use to find solutions to your problems.
The opportunities that come with knowing Spanish
If you live in the United States (especially in places like Florida, New York, or California) you’ve probably noticed that a great amount of the people around you speak Spanish. If this is one of the reasons why you’d like to learn the language, we’re here to tell you some other great benefits of learning Spanish and the opportunities that'll come with it.
First of all, Spanish is the world's fourth-most spoken language after English, Mandarin/Chinese, and Hindi; with nearly 500 million native speakers located mainly in Spain and the Americas. If you already know English, learning another world-popular language can only increase your chances for a better future.
It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations (UN). If you are passionate about humanitarian work, learning one of the official languages of the UN can give you an advantage if you ever wish to apply for an internship or a job.
If you’re a high school student, learning Spanish can be useful once you apply to college because you could transfer some language credits. Your college application will also stand out because schools value bilingualism and they will cherish having a student who speaks two or more languages.
On the other hand, during a job search, your resume could stand out compared to everyone else applying who doesn't have a second or third language listed in their skills.
Companies are always looking for people who can speak other languages because that means they could add an asset to their business and start negotiating deals with other non-English speaking countries. Your employer will be happy to see someone who is bilingual in a pool of monolingual applicants.
Finally, if you know how to speak Spanish you could travel across Latin America or Spain. There are around 20 countries in the world whose official language is Spanish, and you could go travel and visit all their wonders without having to worry about communication, getting lost, or being unable to ask for help or order a meal.
If you truly love foreign experiences, you could even find a job in a Spanish-speaking country —especially if you are bilingual— and settle abroad.
Learn about the different types of Spanish classes that are offered in high school.
Hope for a brighter future
As we mentioned above, learning a second language can open a plethora of opportunities both in your academic and professional life.
As a high school student with good grades and excellent extracurriculars, you'll have the opportunity to apply to the best schools in the country. If you do your studies in the best schools, you'll have a chance to meet a lot of successful people, network, and apply to great job opportunities.
Trust us, being bilingual can lead to better schools, better job offers, and a brighter future and life for you and your family!
Many people who only speak one language also miss out on the international experiences that come from knowing two languages. However, students who speak two or more, have a chance to travel and see the world from a different perspective.
You get to immerse yourself in a culture different than yours from a young age (if you start learning the language as a child), and having that kind of exposure can bring you a lot of personal growth and maturity.
All of these benefits will also improve your quality of life to a degree. Think of how your brain will further develop with the new skills you'll acquire, the amount of academic and professional opportunities you'll have, and how the experiences abroad will improve you and help you build a happy life!
Find new ways to practice Spanish outside of school.
Nonetheless, having the ability to speak another language other than your mother tongue, comes with a set of obstacles and challenges that not everyone is willing to overcome. If you are curious as to what challenges we refer to, continue reading to find out!
Challenges of learning a new language
If you are monolingual, you probably don't know how demanding it can be to learn a new language. On the other hand, if you are bilingual and you wish to learn a third language, then you probably already know what you are getting yourself into.
Learning a foreign language (whether that is Russian, French, German, or Greek) will always be challenging, we hope this is not news for you.
If you have to learn a new alphabet the challenge is even bigger. But, if you choose a language with the same alphabet as yours (in this case English, so French, Italian, Spanish, etc) it doesn't mean the challenge won't be as big.
Learners try to pay attention to the benefits and advantages, nonetheless, it is smart to look at the obstacles too, that way you can prepare yourself better.
To start, you'll have to learn an entirely new vocabulary of words in a foreign language. Is not like learning complex words for the SAT, to learn a new language you're going to have to assign a new word to things you already know.
You'll also have to learn new grammar, writing skills, ways of speaking, understand new words, and more. Keep in mind that each language has different challenges regarding pronunciation, slang, spelling, grammar, and so on.
Mastering a new language will take a lot of study time, effort, energy, hard work, and dedication. If you are not disciplined, you won't progress fast enough and you'll continue to learn and relearn the same stuff over and over again.
Learners, students, and children who procrastinate and don't do well in school usually have a really hard time learning a new language because they are not dedicated or disciplined. Because learning a language is not a matter of showing up to class, it's about showing up for yourself!
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