Some people love the challenge of learning a new language, whereas others find the new grammar and lexicon extremely difficult to grasp. As such, it can be easy for many new learners to give up just as quickly as they start. However, the benefits of learning a new language extend well beyond ordering drinks whilst on holiday. In fact, there are three major improvements that can be made by tackling a new tongue:
Your Memory Improves
You may think that you need an abnormal-sized memory in order to cram multiple languages in; however, the process of learning a new language actually increases the capacity of your brain.
Educators and academics often say the brain is like a muscle—this is true, as it grows stronger with "exercise". Of course, this exercise doesn't have to be repetitive like fitness training; rather, continually developing new language skills will allow your brain to function at a higher level. The reason for this is that learning a language involves some degree of rote -- you have to memorize the translations in order to recall them. Initially, the link between English and your new language will be weak; however, over time and through continuous recall, the link will become much stronger.
The benefits to your memory of learning a new language don't stop at language alone. By learning new language skills, your overall recall will become much stronger and you will become better at remembering sequences or lists. This means your new Latin skills can actually come in handy when you next go to the grocery store!
Your English Improves
Although the focus of your new language pursuit is to understand an entirely new language structure, the process of doing so actually reinforces your English ability. In your day-to-day life, you likely use a lot of colloquialisms and slang terms that are great for conversation, but not so much for formal discussion. Over time, this can cause your native tongue to become a tad sloppy, which can affect your reading and writing skills.
The process of learning a new language helps to rectify this, as learning a new language structure draws your attention to the "nuts and bolts" of the English language. Intricacies such as grammar, sentence structure and subject-verb agreement are extremely important when learning a new tongue, and the process of relearning them will make you a more effective communicator overall.
You Protect Yourself From Degenerative Diseases
Taking part in any form of stimulating mental activity can strengthen your brain and help you to maintain good cognitive function well into your elderly years. The most well known mental health improvement is a significant reduction in Alzheimer's onset at a relatively young age. Studies have shown that the onset of dementia symptoms can be significantly delayed in patients who speak more than one language -- in some cases, by as much as five years.
The reason for this, as alluded above, is that mental recall and cognitive exercise help to strengthen the connections in your brain. These stronger links to not deteriorate as quickly as with monolingual patients, which helps to protect your brain as you grow old. Additionally, this improvement in mental health is not dictated by previous education, meaning that these benefits can be felt by anyone who pursues a new language.
When it comes to learning a new language, the benefits can't be disputed. However, you may find it difficult to get started with the wealth of material available online. In many cases, it's best to start with familiar material so that you can compare the original text to the translated text. If you can't source a translated version of your favorite book, consider hiring a professional translation service who will be able to get you started in no time!