Make learning a foreign language your New Year’s resolution

By Rafa Lombardino

global.jpgHave you considered learning a second language? Would it improve your career? Do you have friends or family who you’d like to communicate with in their native tongue? Have you always dreamed of visiting a foreign country? Speaking to locals in a way that makes them comfortable may help you see another side of your destination that you otherwise would have missed.

Whatever your reasons may be, learning a new language benefits your personal and professional life, sometimes in ways you can’t even imagine. Research shows that exposure to two languages carries far-reaching benefits, from acquiring learning skills that can be transferred to different areas in your life to boosting brain power and potentially living a long, healthy life. Even the onset of Alzheimer’s in bilinguals seems to be delayed, on average by four years, compared to monolinguals.

Additionally, being bilingual influences the way you think, making it easier for you to block out distractions and multitasking more effectively while switching between two or more tasks without dropping the ball. It also fine-tunes your hearing abilities and enhances your attention span, while working your memory muscles.

Speaking a second language not only changes your world view by broadening your horizons, it may also change the way you see yourself, potentially unlocking personality traits you usually do not express while speaking your native language. Maybe you’re shy in your native language, but will become more social and outgoing once you start interacting with others to improve your language skills.

If you have children, your studying may also awaken their interest in another language.  Time and time again, new studies highlight how dual-language learners may get a head start at school. In other words, both you and your children may benefit from your efforts and enjoy quality time reading books and watching animation in a new, second language.

While it’s easy to convince yourself that learning certain languages can be too difficult, the truth is that some may require only a little more time than others before you master all the grammar nuances and acquire a larger vocabulary set. The good news is that your hard work will pay off once you start reaping the benefits of becoming bilingual.

Resolve to learn a new language in 2014 at UC San Diego Extension. Start out by playing a fun language game to warm your engines and help you get ready for a bilingual 2014!

UC San Diego Extension currently offers classes focused on communication skills in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), and Spanish. Visit our website to learn more about courses and programs so you can select the one that’s right for you.

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