Everybody always has the same things to say about the benefits of learning a foreign language. They always discuss how much your cultural perception, awareness, bologna sandwich, whatever will be enhanced.
I’m willing to take the risk of stepping a bit outside the box of this broken record player. Certain pieces of information tend to be omitted, and I am going to discuss them. Research tends to laud only those raised in a bilingual environment or young children. Thankfully, there are benefits for everybody.
Your first language becomes easier.
For every year you spend studying a foreign language you can expect about a 40-50 point increase on your overall SAT score. This is a direct way you can help yourself to get into the college of your choice. People much smarter than me have evaluated this and the results are clear. Students who study 4-5 years of a foreign language outperform those who pursue any other subject for the same amount of time.
To get an idea of exactly how much easier English becomes, do this:
Find a difficult internet article in both English and a translation in your second language. For the best effect, make sure it is something you aren’t terribly interested in. Read the entire article in English now, and save the text in both languages onto your hard drive. 6 months from now try to read the second language first. After this, go back to the English. It may seem a long way off, but it is worth the wait. You will be amazed as the English words jump off of the page at you. (Hint: This is a must for Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings fans. Even some of Tolkien’s 2 page descriptions look picturesque in English after trying to zip through them in French!)
Once you learn your second language, each one thereafter becomes easier.
Learning language involves a lot of trial and error. What works for one person will make another quit for good. Once you learn what allows you to learn the most efficiently, the next language(s) on your radar will come to you much faster. This alacrity is compounded if the third or fourth language is from the same family as your second language.
If all of your English speaking dates are always horrible, you’ll now have an entirely new playing field.
Face it guys, Italians have us beat. As for American girls, you already know how hard it is to compare yourself to a tall broad from Sweden. If you are sick of striking out with Anglo-phones, why not just forget North Americans? (Forget Quebec too if you want, it’s up to you.) Even if they also speak English, what could be a better ice-breaker than using a lame pick-up line in their own language?
All kinds of new games, music, and TV programs are at your disposal.
Two words: Ninja warrior. Imagine how much fun it is for a native English speaker who also knows Japanese! This is just one example, but all kinds of fun and interesting new forms of entertainment become available to you when you have another language under your belt.
What’s any good about “dead” languages?
Ever since Greek/Latin stopped being mandatory there has been a noticable and consistent decline in the correct usage of English. Learning these languages not only stimulates the mind, but also provides some insight into one aspect of the distant past of English. When you look at all of the English terms of Classical origin, it is obvious that the study of these languages is a useful endeavor. This is not only because of the original “root words” but also because of how well one must command the English language in order to adequately translate them. If your high school or college has these available, take them.
You can make some cash on campus.
If you have never liked having a real job, being the best Spanish-speaking non-professor on campus can have its benefits. College students may be poor, but their parents aren’t! Offering individual tutoring not only helps your wallet, but also helps others.
Carry on conversations around those who don’t speak the language.
What could be more fun than being able to discuss how rude somebody who just ran into you on the bus is when he can’t understand you?