10 Reasons to Learn a Foreign Language


English speakers share their language with approximately 480 million other people around the world. Yet this is just 7 percent of the world's population—a population that contains almost 7,000 known living languages, as Ethnologue claims. Learning one of these foreign languages takes time and effort, but it will have a positive impact on all areas of your life, from the social and personal to the professional and economical.

To Better Appreciate Travel Abroad

  • Speaking the foreign language of the country you are visiting enables you to participate more effectively in day-to-day life.

To Enhance Job Prospects

  • Foreign language ability looks attractive to prospective employers. As NC State University notes, international job applicants who are proficient in at least two languages will be at a distinct advantage in the global market.

To Conduct Business More Effectively

  • In today's global economy, business is conducted across national boundaries on a regular basis. According to Washington State University College of Liberal Arts, no matter what career you choose, you'll have a real advantage if you've learned a second language.

To Better Understand Other Cultures

  • Language shapes and is shaped by the world around us. Knowledge of another language gives you insight into another culture and enables you to experience life from a different point of view.

To Experience Foreign Literature, Movies and Music

  • You can enjoy the works of Dante, Fellini and Puccini by learning Italian. Or you can read Tolstoy in his native language if you choose to learn Russian.

To Better Understand Your Own Culture

  • Exposure to another language and culture gives you the ability to observe your own culture, as if through another's eyes. Value systems and norms that you previously thought of as universal look very different when viewed more objectively.

To Improve Cognitive Ability

To Make Learning Another Foreign Language Easier

  • Studying a foreign language helps you develop metalinguistic awareness—a knowledge of how languages work. This makes learning a third foreign language easier.

To Study Abroad

  • It's much easier to study abroad when you can already speak a little of the country's language. Not only does it reduce culture shock, but it lets you concentrate on your course of study, rather than learning the language.

To Increase Ability in Your Own Language

  • Through a process of compare and contrast, you will develop a better understanding of and ability in your own language. As the German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe remarked, "Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own."


  • Photo Credit Jetta Productions/Lifesize/Getty Images
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