Bilingualism is a familiar backdrop to military life in our nation of two official languages. We are keenly aware of the possibility of being posted to a region that is primarily French which can be a challenge for an English-speaking family, and vice versa when a French speaker is posted to a mostly English region. Another consideration for military members is that second language training can lead to a promotion.
The Benefits of a Second Language
Whether it’s English, French, Spanish or any other language, the Calgary MFRC has you covered with several options for learning or improving your second or third language skills. If you are not completely convinced of the advantages of being bilingual, let us explore a few of the benefits of a second language.
Better job options
As a military partner, if your resume qualification highlights include fluency in a second language, your chances of landing a job in today’s economy are much greater for you than for those who speak only one language. Many would argue that bilingualism is becoming an increasingly essential skill for anyone who wants to keep up with today’s global economy. As more and more people recognize the importance of learning a second language, those who only speak one language might be left behind in our shift towards a more connected global society.
Better travel experiences
Knowing more than one language opens your vacation destination possibilities. Traveling through a foreign country becomes much easier if you can speak the language. Don’t worry, fluency is not required. Locals everywhere appreciate that you have taken the time to at least attempt to learn and speak their language. It shows a greater level of respect and is an easy way to meet new people. Also, getting to a comfortable speaking level in a foreign language is a great motivator to get you out there and practicing your new language in a new country.
Keeps your brain sharper
Bilingual people have also been shown to have better cognitive abilities than monolinguals. Research from the University of Edinburgh suggests that specifically, bilingual people score better on tests of reading, verbal fluency and intelligence, all of which undoubtedly help bilinguals be better students. Interestingly, this is regardless of what age the person learns the foreign language. So even a person who learns a foreign language as an adult will benefit from these improved skills.
According to a study from the University of Chicago, decision-making ability also becomes an easier process for multilingual people. Finally, a study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They easily spot anything that is irrelevant or deceptive. They’re also better at spotting misleading information.
Keeps your brain younger
According to the largest study yet to study the effects of bilingualism and dementia, scientists have found that bilingual people tend to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia up to five years later than people who only speak one language. And that was regardless of their education level, gender, or occupation.
Improves your first language
By learning another language, your mother tongue can improve. As you learn a second language, your knowledge of grammar improves because it teaches you the mechanics and structure behind any language — not just the new one. Terms such as vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, comprehension, idioms and sentence structure become everyday phrases.
It looks like there are advantages to learning a new language at any age, for fun and for your career. We hope you take advantage of our resources. Il n'est jamais trop tard pour apprendre une nouvelle langue.