Five reasons to learn a new language at work
Today’s workplace is so much more than a desk, chair and a list of things to achieve before 6pm. More and more organisations are waking up to the idea that the modern work space benefits from incorporating play space too – not to mention creative space, communications space, wellbeing space, rest space, reading space or even dance space – more spaces in fact than you should be able to shake a throbbing glow stick at. The reason for this new era of multifunctional spaces is that a happy, fulfilled employee offers way more goodness than a stressed or overworked one. It’s not rocket science – deep down we know this.
There are literally hundreds of ways to help employees feel happy and fulfilled, but one way to do it is by adding to their repertoire of life skills. ‘Life skills’ are skills that can be applied across the board, whether at work or for leisure – like sailor knots and knife-throwing. Life skills are brilliant, they’re like superhero weapons – you earn them, store them and EXTRACT them from your skillset at a moment’s notice when the need arises. A great example of this is the ability to speak multiple languages. This is a superb addition to your artillery of great skills – and it’s guaranteed to make you look exceptionally debonair in the right circumstances.
Learning a new language is not just about being able to get directions to the station, asking for a boccadillo de jamon or telling your peers how many siblings you have – useful as all of these are. Studies show that those who speak two or more languages actually gain cognitive advantage over those who are linguistically barren. That’s because learning new languages makes your brain actually operate in a different way – thus providing you with a whole spectrum of mental benefits. Let’s get to the nitty gritty here – learning a new lingo actually makes you a superior being! How so? Read on, my friend!
- Career opportunities
As if you weren’t sold already, learning a new language opens the door to new career opportunities, and none of us know when these might arise. Your career opportunity might mean a chance to work remotely from a shepherd’s hut in Siberia, it might be fulfilling a lifelong desire to open a café in Barcelona or it could be an opportunity to lead the opening of a new office branch in Singapore.
Whatever your journey, a new language in your skills portfolio could open unexpected doors. If you’re looking for new job opportunities, it can also improve your future employment prospects.
- Brain boost
Yes it’s true that the most effective time to learn a new language is while you’re still eating Cocopops for breakfast, but all is not lost! The good news is that you can learn linguistic skills at any age – and your mental health will benefit from the process too. No matter how old you are, learning a new language will boost your brain by helping improve your memory AND your general attention span.
Giving your brain this type of mental exercise also helps keep age-related ‘cognitive decline’ at bay. Ever found yourself looking for your glasses while they’re actually on your head? Yup, it’s definitely time for you to crack on.
- Improve your cultural emotional intelligence
During an era when most of us (OK not you, Donald) are working to break down cultural barriers, learning a language is a great facilitator. Broadening our linguistic skills actually helps us to understand how cultural differences express themselves. This in turn encourages tolerant and open-minded thinking in and outside the office.
Getting immersed in new cultures inevitably gives us new perspectives on the world. It’s literally eye-opening.
- Become a better learner
The process of learning new words and structures improves your ability to learn in other areas too – in a similar way that going to the gym improves your general ability to do a range of physical activities. You may find that your maths skills, reading or communication skills will improve alongside your ability to convincingly ask a stranger directions to the local market.
Learning new languages has been scientifically proven to alter the grey matter in your brain – that’s the part that processes information. If you’re on a quest to learn multiple languages, you’ll find each language easier to learn than the last. As you learn, your brain is figuring out how to learn faster and more efficiently. Look at you turning into a streamlined, brilliant learning machine! You’re amazing.
- Boost your confidence
Yes, learning German will allow you to order a Currywurst with extreme panache, but that’s not the only type of confidence you will gain. Discovering that you’re actually able to learn a new language provides a tremendous sense of achievement and can help you overcome any other niggling fears or doubts relating to your confidence or ability.
Learning a whole different set of words and new structures in which to apply them, has you thinking in a new way. You’ll get to understand more about yourself in the process, as well as your attitudes to conversation and communication with others. Learning a language is a great way to meet new people, have fun and build relationships. All of this is extremely rewarding and confidence boosting.
As a final note, there are a number of reasons why regularly taking time out of your workday to learn a new language is a great idea – rather than taking early morning or evening lessons. Taking a break from your daily tasks and experiencing a new mind shift provides a healthy rest to both mind and body. The likelihood is that you will return to your work tasks with renewed energy and focus.
Breaking up the day with worthy distractions is an excellent boost to productivity and your sense of achievement. Imagine leaving work at the end of the day with that kind of new knowledge under your belt.
As if you needed more incentives, partnering with Rosetta Stone and encouraging workmates to learn a new language has its own advantages. If you complete three levels in the interactive software and 90 hours of training in a language you don’t already know by September 2017, you get the chance to win a trip for two to a country where that language is spoken.
Now enough reading – why not make a new language a reality?