20 Reasons To Learn A Language In 2020

It’s time to make your resolutions, and you already know what we’re going to recommend.
December 24, 2019
20 Reasons To Learn A Language In 2020

There’s never a bad time to start learning something new, but something about the new year gets people ready for a new chapter in their life. And nothing says “new chapter” like learning a new language. Maybe you’ve considered learning a language before, or maybe the idea just struck you out of the blue. But now’s the time to pursue your goals! Not convinced yet? Don’t worry, we’ve put together 20 reasons to learn a language in 2020.

  1. Learning doesn’t have to take up all your time. Taking up something new when you’re already crunched for time is tough. You barely have time for laundry, how are you supposed to learn a whole language? But language learning is a flexible task, and we have lots of ways you can fit it into your schedule.
  2. Translation technology is still far from perfect. While your phone’s ability to automatically translate foreign languages is an incredible feat of engineering, it’s still prone to many errors. From bad conjugations to programmed biases, it’s way better to actually learn a language. Plus, robots are notoriously bad at providing real human connection.
  3. It’ll provide great new cursing opportunities. Swearing in English? It’s overdone. It’s not surprising. Hurling the F word is about as exciting as hearing that coworker you hate describe a dinner they had with their parents. We get it Toby! Your mom doesn’t like Indian food! Learning how to swear in French or any other language, though? Now you can tell Toby to stuff it and sound erudite while doing so.
  4. All the cool kids are doing it. Will Smith is multilingual. Serena Williams is multilingual. Shakira is multilingual. And you’re not? Pfft. Not very cool, my dude.
  5. It can help with your career. Knowing a second language can help with your career (depending on the career), and that’s just a fact. Open your life up to a whole host of new job opportunities, from cryptologic linguist to teacher to medical interpreter.
  6. It will help you work on your social anxiety. Yes, learning a new language may actually make your social anxiety a little bit worse at first. Talking to people in a language you don’t know super well? Not great. But we have tips that can alleviate that feeling. And once you discover how supportive people can be to language learners, it can help you carry a new confidence into other parts of your life.
  7. You can use it to spice up your role-playing. Board games provide a great opportunity to learn and practice a new language, especially if your friends are also learning. You can stick with basic games like Scrabble (but in Spanish!), or you can also try adding it to role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. Haven’t you heard? Role-playing games are cool now.
  8. English isn’t going to replace all other languages. A common reason people don’t learn new languages is that English is so pervasive. And yes, it has a pretty dominant role as an international universal language. But other languages are still here, still important, and Anglocentrism isn’t cute.
  9. In fact, there are so many languages! Putting an exact number on it is tough, but estimates place it at about 7,111 languages in the world. Double how many languages you speak next year by learning a new one.
  10. And so many of those languages are on the internet. While English is the dominant language of the internet, there are (pretty obviously) many others. When we have the ability to read texts from anywhere in the world, it just plain makes sense you’ll want to learn more than a single language.
  11. It can keep you mentally sharp. There are brain benefits to every kind of learning, and we should all strive to be lifelong learners. Language learning in particular has been connected to delaying the onset of dementia, as well as generally improving focus and problem-solving abilities. Like exercise works out your body, languages can work out your brain.
  12. Maybe you’ll fall in love. Perhaps you’ve spent enough time on Tinder that you’ve worn out all your English-speaking partner possibilities. Traveling and learning a new language can introduce you to a whole host of new beaus. Why would this increase your chances of finding love? We’re not entirely sure. But there’s something intimate and vulnerable about communicating with someone across linguistic boundaries.
  13. There’s a whole world of music out there. If you’re only listening to English music in 2019, you’re really missing out. Latin music is thriving, K-Pop is going to take over the planet and there are artists in every language making great songs. Try Swedish! And then learn the language so you can understand the lyrics.
  14. Oh, also television. It’s never been easier for people to watch media from other countries, and Netflix is putting out incredible foreign-language TV show after incredible foreign-language TV show. Sure, subtitles exist, but wouldn’t it be nice to not have to need them? In fact, you can use TV shows to help with your language learning, and thus kill two birds with one stone.
  15. And podcasts! The podcasting world has been exploding for years now, and it’s definitely stretched beyond the English-speaking world. There’s incredible work being done out there in every language, so why not tune in?
  16. Ugh, and books. How could we forget books? Somewhat famously, only about 3 percent of books published in the United States are in translation. That means there are a lot of books out there that you can’t get English versions of. Liked Elena Ferrante? Dive into more authors like her by learning Italian. Just generally want to learn languages through reading? You can do that!
  17. You shouldn’t let your high school classes go to waste. If you’re like us, you took a language in school that you stopped using after graduation. The good news is that somewhere, way in the back of your mind, it’s still there. People who have learned a language before will learn it faster the second go-round, even if it’s much later. Attrition is real, but you can vindicate the hours you spent poring over conjugation tables by picking the language back up.
  18. It’s a fantastic activity to do with friends. Have friends who already speak another language? You’ve got an invaluable tool for learning. Going to Paris with a few friends soon? Instant study group. There are countless ways to involve your friends in language learning.
  19. It could connect you to your roots. One of the most popular reasons to learn a language in 2020, or in any year, is that it can connect you to your family’s past. Whether a living relative speaks a language that you don’t or you’re generations removed from “the old country,” learning the language can have a powerful effect on your life and your sense of belonging. 
  20. It can make you a better person. We’re not saying that all monolinguals are lame, but learning a new language can definitely make you a more conscious global citizen. It can increase your empathy, get rid of your prejudices and boost your cultural competence. Language learning opens your eyes to the experiences of other people, and that’s probably the greatest of all the reasons to learn a language in 2020.
'Tis the season to start learning!
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Author Headshot
Thomas Moore Devlin
Thomas grew up in suburban Massachusetts, and moved to New York City for college. He studied English literature and linguistics at New York University, but spent most of his time in college working for the student paper. Because of this, he has really hard opinions about AP Style. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and getting angry about things on Twitter. He's spent a lot of time trying to learn Spanish, and has learned a little German.
Thomas grew up in suburban Massachusetts, and moved to New York City for college. He studied English literature and linguistics at New York University, but spent most of his time in college working for the student paper. Because of this, he has really hard opinions about AP Style. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and getting angry about things on Twitter. He's spent a lot of time trying to learn Spanish, and has learned a little German.

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