21 Reasons To Learn A Language In 2021
Need a push to get started on a new language? Here’s 21.
Depending on how you look at it, January 1 might be just another day. But there’s something about flipping the calendar to a brand new year. It feels like a fresh start, a chance to leave behind the baggage of yore. New Year’s resolutions are always exciting, even if you didn’t exactly follow through on the ones you made last year. The possibilities seem endless: will you read 100 books? Pick up an instrument? Finally put your yoga mat to good use? We may be biased, but we think 2021 should be the year you start on a new language. And if you’re not convinced, we’ve gathered together 21 reasons to learn a language in 2021. Let’s get started!
Why Learn A Language In 2021?
- You can do it from home. Travel may not be possible in the first part of 2021, so why not spend your time learning? Laying the groundwork now means you’ll be prepared in the future when you’re back to traveling abroad. And with quarantine precautions still in place, you probably have plenty of time.
- You can do it with your friends. While convincing your friend to learn accordion with you might be difficult, the barrier to entry for languages is much lower. Convincing a buddy to practice a language with you is a great way to build your friendship, and also to prepare to take a trip with each other later on.
- You can do it with strangers. As more and more learning has been forced online over the past year, the internet has become a better language resource than ever. It can connect you with people from all over the world. One of the most rewarding ways to learn a language is getting involved in a language exchange, meaning you talk to a native speaker of the language you’re learning and switch off between English and the other language. That way, you both benefit, and you might just make a new friend.
- It’ll make you more empathetic. A study out of the University of Chicago found that children raised with two languages tend to be more empathetic and better at communicating than those raised with only one language. This doesn’t mean monolingual people are monsters, just that speaking another language can give you a better chance of understanding people who are different from you. Which makes a lot of sense, when you think about it.
- It’s never too late to start. You might think that you’re past your prime for learning a language, but that’s not true. In most ways, adults are actually better at learning new languages than children. Learning takes time, though, so don’t put it off any longer. As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” That means learn a language in 2021 instead of waiting for 22 Reasons To Learn A Language In 2022.
- Translation apps can’t replace real conversations. One of the most common arguments against learning a language is that you can use an app to translate whatever you need. And while it’s impressive to see artificial intelligence translate blocks of text instantaneously, it’s still very error-prone. If you want to make casual conversation with someone, technology won’t be able to help you (yet).
- Music is getting more multilingual. In 2020, the first Korean-language song made it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 (BTS’ “Life Goes On”), and the first Spanish-language album made it to the Billboard Hot 200 (Bad Bunny’s El Último Tour del Mundo). You can get a lot more out of non-English music if you understand what the lyrics are saying.
- Movies and TV are getting multilingual, too. Streaming services are giving English speakers more access to non-English shows and movies. This isn’t to knock subtitles. In fact, we love that subtitles help people access more content than ever before. But if you’re constantly staring at them, you might miss everything else going on during the movie or TV show you’re watching.
- Everyone else is doing it. Yes, peer pressure can certainly be a reason to learn a language in 2021. If you’ve lived in the United States or the United Kingdom your whole life, you might think that speaking only one language is the norm. But it’s not! In most parts of the world, speaking two, three or even four languages to some degree of competency is common. Which makes monolingualism very uncool in comparison.
- You’ll be able to date globally. Many dating apps, especially in the past year, allow users to move their location to other places. What better way to practice your French than to talk to eligible dates in France? You should be upfront about the fact that you don’t live there, but you’d be surprised how often people are interested in a little long-distance, bilingual flirtation.
- It will help you with your career. Being able to list a language on your resume is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. And depending on your interests, you might even want a job that requires you to be bilingual or trilingual.
- You won’t have to lean on translations. Translators do absolutely phenomenal work, but there’s simply too much content out there for them to tackle it all. Learning a new language means you’ll have access to a whole new world of news, books and more.
- It’ll reveal a whole new side of you. Multilingual people often report feeling different depending on which language they’re speaking. Maybe you’re a little funnier in French or more reserved in Russian. If you only speak one language, you never know what facets of your personality a new language could unlock.
- Minority languages need your help. Languages are disappearing at a frightening rate — one dies every two weeks. Learning a minority language and getting involved in the community around it can be a good way to help revitalize it. There are thousands to choose from, but researching your area and seeing what existing initiatives are in place will help you figure out the best way to participate.
- It’s good for the brain. As pumping weights is to the body, learning a language is to the brain. There are numerous mental benefits to learning a language, from improving your multitasking skills to delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- It’ll help you better understand language in general. If you only speak one language, it’s hard to see how diverse language can really be. Each individual language is just one possibility among an infinite number. Learning a new language will help you better understand how your native language works, as well as how all languages work.
- It can connect you to your roots. One of the most common reasons people learn a new language is because it relates to their heritage. A language can be a great way to explore your family’s history and find out more about your ancestors.
- It’s good, clean fun. If your only experience learning a language is from high school, you might want to give it a second chance. When you learn on your own, you’re not subjected to high-pressure oral exams that affect your GPA. It’s still going to be work, but you can make it way more fun by supplementing your learning with games, movies, trips and more.
- It’ll make you hotter. This may sound like an exaggeration, but studies show that many people find bilingualism attractive. In fact, one survey found that UK women found bilingualism sexier in men than having six-pack abs. Both require a lot of work, but a language is definitely much less superficial.
- It pairs well with your existing hobbies. Language pervades our every waking moment, which means language learning as a hobby is far more flexible than most. You can cook using Russian recipes, take yoga from a Spanish-speaking instructor or sing in Norwegian.
- It will connect you with people around the world. Native English speakers have the great privilege of being born into the language that is essentially the lingua franca for most of the world. You can probably make it through a visit to any major European city without speaking a single non-English word. But if you want to connect with other, non-English-speaking people, making the attempt to learn the language is invaluable. And you don’t need to know every single word in a new language to connect. Choosing to learn a language in 2021 is a great way to open yourself up to many more multilingual experiences.
What are you waiting for?