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Hola! That was the only word I knew in Spanish as a student entering sixth grade.  Although I had a brief introduction to Spanish in Kindergarten, I was excited to begin the challenge of learning a new language.  It was indeed a challenge, but after nine years of learning Spanish, I achieved proficiency according to the Georgetown University proficiency exam for students in the School of Foreign Service.  My journey to learning Spanish is ongoing, and this summer I am continuing the challenge as a volunteer at the Latin American Coalition.  Although I began learning Spanish out of a desire to grow in my knowledge and understanding of the language, I have since learned of other benefits of learning another language.

As a language student and an international relations student, one of the most important benefits I have learned of is the ability to create cross-cultural connections.  We are living in an increasingly globalized world.  Several factors, notably technology, have allowed people to connect in ways that have not been possible in the past.  In connecting with others, it is important to gain an understanding of other cultures, and learning another language can facilitate that.  When one learns another language, one learns more than the language itself.  Learning another language entails learning about history, customs and traditions, everyday life and more.  To learn a new language is to gain an appreciation for other cultures.

In addition to cross-cultural connections, there are several other benefits of learning another language.  Learning another language can benefit one physically by increasing attention span, improving memory, and bettering cognitive skills in a way that can combat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Furthermore, knowing another language can be beneficial when traveling abroad.  It can provide one with the knowledge needed to interact with others in a foreign country.  The focus of many when learning a new language is marketability.  For many jobs and careers today, being bilingual or multilingual is an asset.  It is not just useful for people in careers in international affairs but for people in all careers that require one to interact with cultures other than one’s own, from lawyers to psychologists.  Learning another language is important because it opens the door to a new world for the learner.  Start a new language today and begin the journey of a lifetime.

Start a new language today and begin the journey of a lifetime.

Written by Deirdre Jonese Austin, Georgetown University Class of 2019, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Culture & Politics Major, Focus in Religion & Social Justice (WACC Intern – Summer 2017)

Photo by Tessakay via Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)