If you have ever considered studying a foreign language, now is the time to start! Numerous studies have shown that learning a foreign language has many great benefits on the human brain and longevity. Besides being able to converse with people from other countries, there are some interesting perceptual benefits to knowing more than one language. It may surprise you how much it will have an effect not only on your daily lives, but also your outlook on life:
Dr. Panos Athanasopoulos, of Newcastle University has concluded from studies that bilingual speakers think differently than monolinguals. Even a very basic knowledge of another language can affect peoples’ outlook. This study used English and Japanese speakers and their perception of color. The Japanese participants viewed a color chart for blue with two more terms for light blue (mizuiro) and dark blue (ao) than in English. It has previously been found that different languages will rate shades of colors differently on a scaled color chart, but in this particular study, the native Japanese monolinguals distinguished between light and dark blue more than the English speakers. The Japanese-English bilinguals closely followed the norm of their native language (Japanese).
Dr. Athanasopoulos said, “As well as learning vocabulary and grammar you’re also unconsciously learning a whole new way of seeing the world…there’s an inextricable link between language, culture and cognition. If you’re learning language in a classroom you are trying to achieve something specific, but when you’re immersed in the culture and speaking it, you’re thinking in a completely different way.”
Try using your newfound worldview in your job-we are living in a global economy, you can use another country’s culture to gain insight into the reasoning behind their ideas and strategies. While at the same time, that foreign language can also help you look at your own culture using their perspective.
Newcastle University (2011, March 14). Bilinguals see the world in a different way, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 7, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/03/110314132531.htm