The capacity to speak and learn language is one of the primary traits that distinguish the human brain from the rest of nature. The complex pathways through the brain that form when we learn new languages are beneficial in many other ways beyond communicating.
Improving Problem Solving
Researchers have shown that one aspect of foreign language study that improves mental abilities is the problem solving aspect of the mind. When a second language is studied, the mind works constantly to translate and associate new patterns using previously understood information. In many tests, students that have studied a foreign language perform better on not only verbal examinations, but also mathematics. Even when the students spend less time on studying math due to their foreign language study, the results are consistent and demonstrate an increased problem solving capacity.
Learning a new language also promotes greater creativity. The brain becomes more flexible and more easily associates distinct ideas into a cohesive fabric. With the inherent differences in languages, multilingual thinkers have a broader pallet for expression and interpretation. Most studies focus on the cognitive development of young students, but evidence still suggests that the differences between languages encourage the mind to recognize patterns and communicate with more precision. Scientists have long theorized that creative innovations greatly rely on the connectivity patterns between neural networks in the brain. As languages increase this connectivity, it follows that they should also increase creativity on a broader scale.
Broader Acceptance of World Cultures
Beyond the intellectual benefits of learning a new language, there are many more opportunities for bilingual people. Especially in the U.S., the ability to speak in a language other than English offers many competitive advantages in the workplace. On an international scale, top agencies and businesses are in greater need of Americans that are fluent in world languages. Especially in the business environment, there is an increasing demand for employees that speak foreign languages to facilitate conversation between companies in a transformed, globalized world market.
On the domestic front, the American population is increasingly filled with Spanish-speakers, making it increasingly useful for healthcare workers, police officers, and other civil servants to have some working knowledge of Spanish to serve all members of the community. In the fields of business, government, and life in general, foreign languages open new avenues into diverse communities. Just as new languages connect different parts of the brain, so too do they connect new parts of the world together.