I am a strong believer that if you have the desire and will to accomplish a task, you can achieve any goal you set your mind to. There is an old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Now, does this ring true for adults attempting to learn a new language? Is it a futile battle? Some people have a knack for learning languages, while others can be deterred at the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of speaking another language. Well, nothing is impossible. There is a misconception that adults lack the ability to learn new languages, and I too share the guilt for that inaccurate preconception.
Science does support that it can be easier for children to learn a language, but adults can reap many benefits of diving into the world of polyglots. There are mental, physical and social benefits to learning a new language that will impact your life in many positive ways.
Let’s speak into the scientific and physical benefits of bilingualism. Exercise can help strengthen every part of our body, and the brain is no exception. We need to continue challenging our mind in new ways to continue its development, and at least maintain its capabilities. Language learning offers a form of training that will help your brain grow, while staving off dementia, Alzheimer’s and other brain related diseases. Language learning also enhances focus, attention and one’s ability to multi-task. It improves your mind’s ability to distinguish objectives, and it initiates cognitive flexibility which makes it easier to adapt to unexpected circumstances.
The social benefits of bilingualism are just as important. When we have success and make improvements in our well-being, we become more confident. When we possess confidence our lives become more manageable and our experiences are elevated. Now, if travel and people are high on your list for things that elicit happiness, then a bilingual lifestyle will be the perfect companion for you. I have seen through experience that the simple “hello” and “thank you” you offer folks in their native tongue can bring a warm smile to their face. However, when you strike up an unexpected conversation or crack a joke, be ready for jaws to drop, eyes to widen, bright smiles to appear and invites for dinner to follow. There is no price to put on the experiences gained through travel, but those interactions will be enhanced ten-fold when you communicate with confidence and in a new friend’s native language.
Now, if you are thinking that you don’t plan to travel anywhere, so why should I put forth that effort. Remember, Vietnam is a growing economy and a hot destination for tourists that will be attracting more people from all over the globe. Your new language can be an asset. Maybe you just want to have a better understanding of Korean films. Or you are practicing Brazilian jujitsu and you want to speak Portuguese with your coach. Or you just love Japanese food and you want to read a Japanese cook book.
Whatever the reason you have for choosing a specific language to learn, just be sure to embrace it with passion and an open mind. I know we have Google Translate and other tools that have made it easier to communicate. Therefore, it all begins with your will and desire. Language learning is about challenging yourself, and accomplishing a goal that you can be very proud of.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”— E.E. Cummings
Teacher Joseph DiCicco
Teacher at I Can Read HCM