This article is written from the perspective of a trilingual person who only grew up with one language and learned the other two. If you grew up with multiple languages, this might not apply to you.
There are many benefits of being someone who can speak multiple languages. It probably is a bit weird to have an article based on that. However, I wanted to throw my own two cents and my own experiences into the virtual world and, hopefully, convince you to keep continuing learning new languages. If you are looking for my article on problems with being trilingual, please see my article here.
Communicate with many people
The most obvious benefit for speaking multiple languages is that you can communicate with many people, especially if one of your languages is English, which tends to be the first or second language of many multi-lingual people.
However, certain languages also gives you the benefit of communicating with people who don’t speak that language. For example, Spanish and Italian are very similar. I am able to speak in Spanish to an Italian and have them respond to me in Italian and we can converse. Granted, this conversation is very basic and not about politics for example, but it’s enough to travel Italy or communicate with a hostel mate while traveling.
Express yourself with more phrases
As someone who speaks a few languages, I have realized that there are sayings, expressions, and phrases that are specific to one language. Even if there is some sort of translation, it is never the same. Being trilingual, I have the ability to express what I want using different languages. If there is a saying in Spanish I want, I will just say it. Of course, this is with people who understand that language, please see my problems of being trilingual article.
As a native English speaker, I have found our expressions are not as diverse and freeing as those in Spanish and French. I truly appreciate knowing their different sayings as I feel like many of them really hit what I am thinking.
More job opportunities
This might be another obvious benefit, but it is true. The more languages you know, the more jobs that will become available to you.
This being said, this isn’t necessarily in your target profession or location. For me, knowing Russian wouldn’t benefit me in Montreal. There are Russian speakers, but companies are not hiring Russian speaking workers. They are looking for English and French.
However, Spanish is now becoming a big world language. In Montreal, knowing Spanish would give me an advantage over the many bilingual English/French speakers.
You can pick up more languages
When I was learning Spanish, it was pretty difficult. However, because I learned Spanish, learning French has been easier.
There are a lot of similarities between Spanish and French, which helps a lot, but one of the big things is that I already trained my brain to learn a new language. It already understands how the process works.
The brain is just like any other muscle in your body. It needs training and when you have trained it, things become easier.
More travel opportunities and increased confidence
Many individuals seem stuck in their travel options because they only speak one language. They are afraid of not being understood. This is true for many Americans who are nervous to go to China or France. Though English is the world language for business and tourism, not everyone speaks or understands it.
I have tied travel opportunities and increased confidence together because the more you travel the more confidence you receive. The more languages you know the more likely you will travel. PLUS, you can learn a language while you travel. I have spent many months in different countries to learn Spanish. The best way to learn a language is to be in the country that speaks it.
You can use learning a language as more of a reason and more of a boost to travel.
Many of these ideas might seem obvious, but yet, many people can only speak one language, mainly people from English speaking countries.
My last word for you, if you are a native English speaker, is to not rely on our common language. Just because many people speak it all over the world, doesn’t mean we should continue to sit on our hands. There is so much of the world to explore – in travel, but also through language. Language and culture, in my opinion, are very much tied. Once you know a language, you can fully appreciate the culture. What are your thoughts?