Five advantages of concentrating on an unknown Language


Native English speakers are in many ways extremely fortunate. English is generally considered to be the world`s language (though it may one day lose that coveted spot to Mandarin or Spanish), and for many years we have enjoyed the privilege of having other nations being eager to learn our language. The result of this is that native English speakers have a relatively low incidence of being multilingual.

Up until 2004 it was compulsory to learn a foreign language at GCSE, with French and German being the most common languages on offer. Since 2004 OFSTED has stated that the number of pupils electing to study a foreign language has `declined significantly. By 2019 OFQUAL made a report that application for MFL (modern foreign languages) was only around half of the entries for 2002, when there were almost 500,000 applications.

Our privileged position, with so many countries clamouring to learn our language, may however have led us to miss out on the benefits speaking another language can bring. Lacking the imperative to become multilingual may have come at a cost. Here are some of the many advantages learning a new language can bring.

Improve academic performance

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that learning another language increases your academic performance across the board. Memory, problem solving, critical thinking, along with listening skills and multi tasking abilities are all enhanced with the acquisition of another language. Though the precise reasons for this are unclear, it may be down to an increased mental flexibility, and improved concentration and memory that learning another language brings. These are certainly some of the reasons those students who are studying languages invariably score higher in standardised testing.

Improve native language proficiency

Learning another language will almost certainly improve your abilities in your native language. If the new language you are learning shares a familial linkage - such as Romance languages Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Galician, Mirandese, Proven al, Sardinian, Romanian; or modern indo-aryan languages - such as Hindi, Bengali or Sinhalese - then your vocabulary will be increased by the acquisition of this new language. Learning the new rules of grammar and syntax will also have a boosting effect upon your ability with your native language.

Improved career prospects

Being multilingual will potentially be of great significance for your career, as it will open up opportunities for you to communicate with foreign clients, and even work abroad. BRIC Language Systems, an online training company based in New York, which specialises in Mandarin Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish, has published a report indicating that bilingual employees typically enjoy wages somewhere between 10% and 15% above their monolingual colleagues.


Visiting a foreign country whose language you are familiar with is a great experience. Whereas most tourists will struggle to get by, rattling off the few phrases they know to amused natives, you will be able to fit in, connecting with the people and their culture at a far deeper level. Of course the best way to improve competence in a foreign language is to visit the country, and after just a few days you will find yourself learning things that could never be acquired in the academic environment of a classroom.

Greater access to literature

Of course we are lucky enough to have so much foreign literature translated into English - but there can be no comparison to reading a novel in the original, reading the very words that the author themselves set down. Poetry, which in may ways plays upon the inherent structure of language itself, is in many ways impossible to translate - and the idiosyncratic `voice` of an author will very likely be lost in translation.