Featured Image: Personal Benefits of Learning a Second Language, with an image of foreign language films

Personal Benefits of Learning a Second Language

While every benefit of learning a foreign language could be said to be a somewhat personal benefit, there are some that are for pure enjoyment, and really involve no one other than you, and enriching your life.

A Hobby – Learning for Fun!

Strange as it may seem, many people learn languages just as a hobby!

In the same way as some people enjoy jigsaw puzzles, crosswords or sudoku, others enjoy adding another language to their repertoire.

Usually there is some other perceived benefit as well, like making friends or any of the other benefits I have listed here.

But when it comes down to it, learning language can as much a hobby as quilting.

In the same way as you (well, maybe not you … but my mother!) might want to make a quilt as a gift, or for Christmas decorations, for some of us learning language is the hobby, and we just do different things with it.

Playing MMOs with other language speakers

Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs) are online games with hundreds or thousands of players using the same server.

Many games have servers in many countries, and with people who speak many languages.

Anecdotally, I have often heard from language learners that their motivation for learning was to be able to communicate more easily with team members for whom English was a second language.

Find new friends to play MMOs by learning a second language.
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM

Interestingly, MMOs have also been studied as a format for teaching second languages.1

This is because they offer an immersion environment, where language is a tool to achieve goals. It is thought that motivation may be higher for language students if lessons are presented in the context and format of an MMO.

Watching Foreign Films and TV Shows in the Original Language

Watch movies in their original language.
Photo by Charles Deluvio

For years we (in Australia at least) have been able to watch Bollywood, Japanese movies, French Cinema and obscure Egyption historical dramas on our “cultural” channel SBS late at night.

Now Netflix and other platforms have brought us K-Drama, Nordic Noir, Japanese Anime and a slew of other genres in a variety of other languages.

And those of us who know the source language of the program can tell you – the translation doesn’t always do it justice!

Watching these newly accessible programs in their original language adds a whole other layer to the experience, and is a motivation for many to learn another language.

Reading Books in the Original Language

Read books in their original language.
Photo by Angélica Echeverry

Knowing a second language gives you access to a new pool of literature and media. While certain “classics” are translated into English, thousands of websites, books, journals, plays, songs, poems and daily news articles are not.

Being able to access this literature in its source language gives a much more complete understanding of the culture, in ways that reading the translated version will not.

In the same way watching television in the original languages makes for a deeper and richer experience, reading books in their original language likewise adds to the authenticity of the experience.

Imagine reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy in Russian or Les Misérables by Victor Hugo in French.

Even more, it is inevitable as you learn a language that you also learn about the underlying culture.

This new knowledge opens insights into the plot that you would never have seen reading the book from the paradigm of your home culture.

Enjoying Foreign Music

Whether it is K-Pop, Regaeton or Afrobeat that you love, learning Korean, Spanish or Yoruba will give you a whole new appreciation for the lyrics and message of your favourite artist.

In fact, it is a common discussion among language learners how much they enjoy listening to music in their second language, or how they have discovered a new story, or a new take on an old story.

Getting a Different Perspective on History

I remember many years ago watching an Egyptian historical documentary, on the period of history when the biblical figure Joseph (of Technicolour Dream Coat fame) was their Prime Minister. It was fascinating to learn about a whole other perspective on a person who is quite well known in Christian cultures.

Conclusion

Learning a second language offers numerous personal benefits, enriching your life in various ways. It can be an enjoyable hobby, providing mental stimulation and a sense of accomplishment.

Being able to read or listen to material in its source language turns out to be another positive feedback loop – as we have seen in our post about the cognitive benefits of learning a language, as we listen to material in its original language, we learn more of the culture and become more open-minded, which helps in turn to open us up to learn more of the language.

Overall, acquiring a second language broadens your horizons and enriches your personal life significantly.

References

  1. Kongmee, I., Strachan, R., Montgomery, C., & Pickard, A. (2011). Using massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) to support second language learning: Action research in the real and virtual world. Northumbria Research Link. Last accessed https://core.ac.uk/outputs/4146071/ on 7 June, 2024.

FAQ

How can learning a second language impact your life?

Learning a second language can profoundly impact your life by enhancing cognitive abilities, improving academic performance, and opening up professional opportunities. It sharpens problem-solving skills, boosts memory, and enhances multitasking abilities.

On a personal level, it can increase self-esteem, reduce stress, and foster a sense of accomplishment.

Socially, it expands your network, enhances cultural appreciation, and strengthens family bonds. Professionally, multilingualism makes you more competitive in the job market, leading to better career prospects and higher salaries.

Ultimately, learning a second language enriches your life in multiple dimensions.
Read more on the benefits of language learning.


This post is part of my series on Benefits of Learning a Second Language. Read the other posts here:

  1. Unlock the Advantages of Multilingualism: 35 Ways a Second Language Benefits You
  2. Social Benefits of Learning a Second Language
  3. Personal Benefits of Learning a Second Language
  4. Cultural Benefits of Learning a Second Language
  5. Cognitive Benefits of Learning a Second Language
  6. Psychological Benefits of Learning a Second Language
  7. Academic Benefits of Learning a Second Language
  8. Professional Benefits of Learning a Second Language
  9. Language Learning Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Cate is a language enthusiast sharing her language learning journey here. Apart from her native English (albeit 'Strine'*!), as an adult she has also learned Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to approximately a C1 level, Dutch to around B1/2, French to around A2, and has a smattering of other languages.

B.A. (Anthropology/Marketing), Grad. Dip. Arts (Linguistics), Grad. Cert. Entrepreneurship & Venture Development, (CELTA).

Auslan Interpreter (NAATI), and general Language Nut.

*For more information on 'Strine', visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strine