Why Learn a Second Language?


A blog by Ms. Sandy Bogan, World Languages Department

Learning another language has long been a requirement in most high school programs. But did you know that learning a different language will improve your brain function and may even postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s disease? Studies have shown that speaking a second language exercises different parts of the brain and therefore enhances the functionality of the brain and makes you smarter.

A 2012 study published by Northwestern University established that it’s easier for bilinguals to pay attention to relevant sounds and to block out irrelevant ones. This increase in focus suggests that people with the ability to speak more than one language can filter out unimportant input more effectively than monoglots. This may be due to the fact that multilingual people have trained themselves to “juggle” or tune into relevant linguistic input while ignoring other auditory input.

Although these are great benefits, there are more! Being fluent in a second language will also:

• Make you wealthier – being bilingual will set you apart from other candidates and definitely improve your employment prospects
• Will enable you to communicate with a wider range of individuals – no more missed opportunities to meet and chat with individuals you encounter in your travels or those in your own community
• Will introduce you to new cultures – learning about different cultures will give you a new perspective of your own and give you a greater appreciation of the richness of our world
• You will be able to enjoy works of art in their original language – films, books, telenovelas, music, graphic novels, etc. – you won’t have to rely on translations that lose the charm and nuances of the original language.

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As a language learner, it’s easy to feel frustrated. You may struggle to stay motivated, especially when the process becomes repetitive or challenging. While some of the scientifically-proven benefits of foreign-language study are not easy to notice or quantify by learners themselves (especially right away), it’s a good idea to remind yourself of them from time to time. If you stick with a new language, you’ll be on your way to personal growth and development far beyond a new set of vocabulary words. And it’s also nice to be able to order that coffee the way you like it, too.

Incidentally, the more languages you learn the easier it gets!

bogenMs. Sandy Bogan is a member of the World Languages Department at Alverno Heights Academy. This is her 16th year at Alverno Heights Academy. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from California State University, Los Angeles and California Lifetime Secondary Teaching Credential. She currently teaches Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish II Honors, and Spanish Practice. Ms. Bogan is currently the faculty moderator for the National Honor Society and California Scholarship Federation. In addition to Spanish, Ms. Bogan also speaks Portuguese, French, and Russian! 

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