Summer, winter, fall, spring — any season is a good season to start learning a new language. And yet, there’s something about the new year that provides a little boost of extra motivation to try something you haven’t done before. On January 1, your slate is clean and you can resolve to do anything you want. If you’re one of those people on the fence, then we’re here to help. We’ve compiled our top 22 reasons to learn a language in 2022.
Every person is different, so we don’t expect all 22 reasons to learn a language in 2022 to apply to you in particular. Maybe you’ll be inspired by many of them, or maybe just one will set off a spark. Without further ado, then, let’s get into our longer–by–the–year list.
22 Reasons To Learn A New Language In 2022
- Travel is coming back…eventually. Even now, it’s too early to tell when travel will revert back to its pre-pandemic state (or if it’ll ever be exactly the same). Still, there’s lots of optimism for the coming year. Why not get a jump on your travel by starting to learn a language now? That way, you’ll be all the more prepared when you finally board that plane, train or automobile.
- TV shows and movies are becoming more and more multilingual. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are investing more in entertainment that isn’t in English, and it’s paying off. Some of the best television of the past few years has been in other languages. And yes, subtitles are very helpful and you should definitely use them. But if Squid Game taught us anything, they’re not always a perfect replacement for understanding the original language.
- It can help you connect with your heritage. One of the most common reasons for learning a language is because it’s used by a person’s parents, grandparents or ancestors even further back. Language and culture are inextricably intertwined, so learning a language can be a good way to understand your heritage better.
- It’s easier than you might think. If anyone tells you that learning a language is simple, you should probably give them a skeptical look. Still, language learning is sometimes built up as some impossible, Herculean task. If you make learning part of your routine, however, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you can progress. And if ease is a particular motivator, you can check out the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.
- There are more ways to learn than ever. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to learning. In fact, one of the best ways to get to know a new language is by approaching it in a number of different ways. And lucky for you, there are constantly new ways to learn. Babbel alone has added new Babbel Live classes and vocabulary review games in recent months, giving you learning options that fit your lifestyle, whatever it may be.
- It’s good for your brain. Learning anything is a good way to stay mentally sharp, but language learning has extra benefits. People who study languages ward off dementia and improve their ability to multitask. In some ways, it’s like going to the gym for your brain.
- It’s good for your career. While it may not be true in every field, knowing a second or third language can be a huge leg up when you’re on the job hunt. Doctors, video editors, social workers and more are all aided when they’re better able to understand other languages. Bilingual people also often get paid more for having this extra skill.
- You can do it anywhere. While other hobbies require bulky tools or vast time commitments, language learning is portable in every sense. You can do a lesson on your phone, carry around flashcards or even just translate the world around you in your head.
- It shows you care. Speaking someone else’s language can be an act of caring. Even if you don’t master another tongue, even just getting some of the basics down shows that you’re willing to make an effort. Meeting someone in their native language is also a way to get to know them better than if they’re forced to translate themselves for you.
- There’s so much to read that isn’t in English. There’s a famous statistic out there that only 3 percent of books published in the United States are in translation (and it isn’t much better for other English-speaking countries). That means there are a ton of books out there that you can only read in other languages. And even if a book is available in English, you might want to read Marcel Proust, Elena Ferrante, Miguel de Cervantes or Tove Ditlevsen in the original.
- It’s a good way to avoid tourist traps. Finding the best, off-the-beaten-path destinations can be difficult. There are lots of websites promising to give you “authentic” recommendations, but there’s nothing worse than showing up at a place and realizing that there’s not much that’s authentic about it. The best way to avoid tourist traps is to learn some of the language, befriend local people and look at non-English sources of information.
- It’s a good bonding activity. Starting a new project with someone is a great way to spend time together. Maybe you have a friend who’s expressed interest in tackling Russian, or maybe you want to meet new people and go out in search of a tandem partner. Either way, language learning with another person will help you keep your motivation up, and that person will likely give you feedback on your progress.
- Translation apps are still very imperfect. Sometimes when you tell someone you’re learning a language, they’ll say something like, “Why bother? You can just plug anything into an app.” And while it is true that auto-translation technology has become incredibly advanced over the past few decades, it’s still no match for actually knowing the language. Talking with someone through a machine also makes for a pretty impersonal experience.
- It’ll teach you more about English. The English language is a strange mishmash of (mostly European) languages. It’s Germanic, but it’s also been heavily influenced by Norse, Latin, French, Greek, Arabic and others. When you’re learning another language, you might be shocked to see words you know in English popping up all the time. Studying another language will give you some insight into how English absorbed other linguistic influences.
- It’ll teach you more about language in general. If you’re monolingual, you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about how language works. It’s like if you based your whole idea of “cars” on a single model. Sure, that one model might be cool, but it doesn’t show you everything a car can do. Learning even one other language will open your eyes to human communication.
- It’ll teach you about yourself. Learning a new language won’t turn you into an entirely different person, but it may lead to some changes. For example, some research suggests that bilingual people have more empathy. Other people say that their personality is subtly different in another language. Learning to slow down and really consider what you’re saying in another language might cause you to feel like a slightly different person.
- Maybe you’ll fall in love. It may sound like a pretty rare occasion that people who speak different languages fall in love, but we assure you it happens all the time. Building a relationship is already so much about working on communication, so adding in a language barrier isn’t as much a deal-breaker as you might expect. Love conquers all, including the subjunctive tense.
- It’s actually a little out of the ordinary to be monolingual. In certain countries, speaking only one language is the norm. But in the world as a whole, it’s more common to be multilingual. Why not join in with the rest of humanity?
- You can help keep a language alive. Every two weeks, a language dies. In response, people around the world have gathered together to try to keep minority languages alive with movies, books and study groups. Learning a minority language is usually a bit different than taking on a big one like English, French or Russian, but you might be surprised by the resources that devoted people have put together. With a little research, you might even find nearby groups you can join to make an active effort to stop language attrition.
- You can use it to annoy your friends. So many of our reasons to learn a new language in 2022 are about self-improvement, but you don’t have to want to better yourself. In fact, you can use a new language to become a worse person. Bring up language learning in every conversation. Say something in the language you’re learning and refuse to translate for anyone. Start insisting on pronouncing everything on the menu like a native speaker would. Learn for spite. There’s really no wrong reason to learn, as long as you don’t blame us for driving your friends away.
- It’s fun! If your first language-learning experiences were in school, then you might associate it with homework and that feeling of panic when the teacher calls on you. Try to put that behind you, though, because learning on your own terms can be a lot of fun.
- What the world needs now is more connection. The internet promised to bring people around the world together, but it doesn’t seem like it’s succeeded. Of all the reasons to learn a language in 2022, we end on this one, because we believe that it can help foster mutual understanding. It won’t solve all of the problems that exist, but it’s a step in the right direction.