Learning local languages can benefit brain and social development
While the prospect of learning another language may be daunting, especially if you struggled to get decent grades for your mother tongue at at school, there are many good reasons to do so. South Africans may be at an advantage in this regard compared to many other nations, as most South Africans speak at least two languages, and often more.
Here are some compelling reasons to learn another language:
1. Massive benefits for your brain:
- Knowing another language protects your brain against aging and can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia by around 4.5 years.
- This is true even if an individual is illiterate but can speak another language.
- Research reveals that the more languages you know, the less likely you are to experience memory loss or cognitive decline later in life.
- Being bilingual or multilingual enhances your ability to multi-task (as you are thinking in different languages) which reduces stress.
- Research has also shown that knowledge of other languages improves decision making ability and helps you become a better listener.
- For children, or anyone involved in studying, knowledge of another language improves academic performance in other areas such as Maths, reading, comprehension and vocabulary tests.
2. Social and financial benefits:
- You will enhance your travel experience in foreign countries, being able to order food and know what you’re eating and get a more complete experience of the culture. Being able to fit in like more of a local, you’re less likely to be scammed and harassed as a tourist.
- You will be able to make deeper connections and form deeper friendships with those of other cultures and they will respect you more just for attempting to speak their language.
- You will increase your job opportunities – with business becoming more global, it will be to your advantage to learn another language and may lead to better paying jobs.
3. Benefits of learning a local language:
- In South Africa, we have 11 official languages and many of the reasons mentioned already are also benefits of learning a local language instead of a foreign one. While it may seem fun and romantic to learn French, German or Italian, you will probably only get to use that knowledge if you travel there or move to that country. Of course, the cognitive benefits apply to any language you learn.
- Learning a local language like Zulu or Xhosa will benefit you in your own country as you will be able to understand and converse with many more of your countrymen.
- Speaking to someone in their own language earns you respect – even if your accent is strange! Speaking a local language instantly breaks down barriers to communication. Nelson Mandela is believed to have said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.
BrightSparkz Tutors offers a unique concept of language “boot camps” in Afrikaans and Zulu. These are appropriate for both school-age learners and adult beginners. This is a fun and effective way of learning the basics of a new language and it removes the fear and resistance that many people feel when learning a new language.
If you need more specialized language tutoring, we can assist with that too!
Written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer