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The benefits of learning the lingo in your new home country

The benefits of learning the lingo in your new home country

10th September, 2012 Living Abroad

I speak to all sorts of expats, who live abroad for all manner of reasons, but those who have the most enjoyable lives tend to speak the local language, at least well enough to get by in an ordinary day-to-day conversation.

I’ve noticed the trend and so, apparently, has the science community. Various pieces of research deliver the same verdict – learning a second language is good for you in all sorts of exciting and unusual ways, quite apart from those you’d expect. So I thought it’d be useful to write a piece about the many cognitive and social advantages.

There’s no reason why you can’t learn a second language as an adult. And because it’s often easier to learn when you are immersed in it on an everyday basis, as an expat you’re in a good position. When everyone around you is speaking it, you find yourself picking up new words and phrases perfectly naturally. If you learned a second langauge at school you will know what I mean: you passed a language exam years ago but it only comes back to you once you’ve spent a few days on holiday, actually in that country, surrounded by the language 24/7. Bear that in mind and it’ll help boost your confidence in your innate abilities.

10 practical ways in which learning a new language enriches your life

Learning a second language:

  1. Results in better overall literacy skills
  2. Improves your academic progress in other subjects
  3. Boosts the development of related and unrelated skills
  4. Helps you with abstract and creative thinking
  5. Gives you a wonderful sense of achievement
  6. Promotes cultural, community and social awareness
  7. Fosters acceptance by the native people in your new country
  8. Enhances your career opportunities
  9. Makes your social life more lively, vibrant and fun
  10. Improves your self confidence

According to the scientist James Flynn, “The mind is much more like a muscle than we’ve ever realised… It needs to get cognitive exercise. It’s not some piece of clay on which you put an indelible mark.” Learning a new language is excellent cognitive exercise. And it plays an important part in broadening your mind. When you know the language you feel as though you play a genuine and useful part in the life of your new country, less like a visitor and more like a productive member of society who actually belongs there.

Speaking a second language even helps you understand your mother tongue better, because knowing the way another language works encourages you to think about its mechanics and origins.

If you’re taking your children with you, they will probably pick up the language faster than you and you can help one another learn. It’s good to join them on their exciting voyage of discovery rather than get left behind. It’s hard to beat as a unifying activity for the whole family. Learning something as fundamental as a new language together, whether it’s just you and your husband, wife or partner or you’re also moving abroad with children, is a wholly positive way to help yourselves genuinely belong.

Our detailed expat country guides

For more information about making a success of your move abroad, why not download our free eBook, The New Expat, which covers medical considerations, family matters, accommodation issues, financial arrangements and much more. You might also enjoy our special country guides, which include the ins and outs of living as an expat in Kuwait, Switzerland, Ireland and more.

If you have any questions or thoughts on the points covered in this post, feel free to leave a comment or connect with us @now_health on Twitter or on the Now Health Facebook page.

 

Image source: thedailyenglishshow

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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