How does being a polyglot improve your life?

How does being a polyglot improve your life?

A polyglot is a person who is dedicated to learning and speaking in several languages. The prefix, "poly", means more than one, "glot", on the other hand, is a Greek word meaning language. Therefore, a polyglot is anyone who speaks several languages.

In 2020, speaking more languages is an increasingly widespread and required practice. After the advent of the Internet and with increasing globalisation, it is necessary to be able to communicate with as many people as possible.

Knowing Italian, English, German, French, Spanish and Indonesian, I realized that speaking more languages not only makes it easier for me in other countries, but also opens some doors for me in my own country. The idea that French in London would help might seem odd, but if I didn't speak it, I would have paid my Oriental carpet 45 dollars instead of 30 last week (the gentleman who sold it to me was a Tunisian who barely spoke English and because we could joke in French he discounted it by 15 dollars). This is a practical example of how to use a foreign language to your advantage!

Of course, in addition to giving you a discount and doing better abroad, being multilingual can seriously improve your life. It's never too late to learn new languages and there's no better time than this, since we're locked at home in quarantine, we have plenty of free time and can spend a few hours learning them. And by way of encouragement in case you need more, here are the advantages of being polyglot (both scientifically proven and derived from personal experience).

First, being a polyglot makes you smarter and improves your memory. Scientific studies have shown that speaking several languages in addition to your own is a wonderful way to keep your mind in exercise and in top form, especially if you continue to alternate languages throughout your life. Bilingual or multilingual people have higher cognitive performance and are more adept at planning, solving problems and other mentally challenging tasks. Having to alternate languages continuously is an all-round brain gymnastics for polyglots, which makes them faster, better at multitasking and yes, smarter. Of course, being smarter has a lot of positive consequences, especially in terms of developing new skills and processing information better.

Speaking more languages increases job opportunities. For some people, finding a job can be difficult. Not because they lack experience or training, but because there are no more job opportunities in their home countries. If you speak a language other than your own dialect, finding a job would not be limited to your home country. Languages are crucial in the world of work, which is why speaking more than one language makes you more competitive in the labour market and could certainly help in career advancement. Within the working environment, the demand for a multidisciplinary and multicultural team is increasing on the agenda. Being able to communicate in a second language, therefore, is an extra march for those who already have a career and allows those who do not yet have one to broaden their working horizons and offer themselves to a different market than the one where they live, even without moving physically, thanks to the great development of distance working and freelance professions, such as translators.

Studying and knowing different languages protects against senile dementia and improves memory. Experiments have shown that those who master several languages are less likely to get dementia or Alzheimer's at an early age. By this I do not mean that multilingualism is a miracle panacea, but greater mastery certainly helps to keep diseases at bay. In addition, multilingual people's brains age more slowly and therefore live longer and more satisfying lives. Since learning another language requires a lot of memory, bilinguals score higher than monolinguals when faced with mnemonic tasks, according to statistics. An iron memory is a wonderful not only intellectual but also social skill. Think how nice it would be to always be able to associate faces to names, instead of staring at someone with a lost look wondering who they are.

Learning a new language helps you have a better knowledge of your mother tongue. This is because, as you gain a better understanding of a different language, you mentally confront it with the knowledge of your mother tongue. This awareness and confrontation help you to have a deeper and better understanding of words and their meaning, grammar, sentence structure and more, making you a better writer and speaker in your first language.

As an incurable traveller, each time I go on a journey, I am grateful for being a polyglot and I assure you that it makes you appreciate other cultures even more. Even when I am in a country whose language is totally unknown to me, there is always someone who can speak one of the languages I know, especially English. It is a dialogue that enriches my cultural experiences, and the feeling of being able to communicate is the best in the world. The knowledge of one or more foreign languages brings you into contact with the mind and heart of another culture and its people. You can make friends you did not expect and share your interests and passions with those who speak that language. In addition, you can live a richer and more authentic experience: if you know the local language, travelling takes on a whole new flavour! Even if you don't speak it fluently, the natives will appreciate the effort of communicating and you'll have the chance to really immerse yourself in the local culture. Ordering food or asking for directions will become a pleasant part of the trip and an opportunity to meet new people. One of the benefits of being polyglot is that you can have real discussions with people from places abroad, which is one of my favourites because it ensures that your trip does not remain a surface passage. A thorough knowledge of another language necessarily implies that, in addition to the grammatical rules, you meet a culture completely different from your own. This, in addition to being an extra value to your life baggage, allows you to deal with habits different from your own. This factor also involves another important component, that of learning new ways of saying, new expressions and new terms. Each language, in fact, reflects values, traditions, habits that it is wonderful to be able to share with people with whom you share the knowledge of a language because it establishes a linguistic exchange that increases your cultural background, makes you more open-minded and tolerant towards those who are different from us.

The travel experiences of those who speak two or more languages are often better. Travelling to a new country is often part of everyone’s wish list or goals in life. But tourists often complain about many different things. From different expectations in accommodation to simple instructions that are misunderstood by locals, and many more. This often happens when travelling because there are too many communication errors due to the language barrier. However, if you know the language of the country you are visiting, you can eliminate the language barrier and have fewer errors in communication with the locals. Good communication is an essential aspect when traveling, so learning the local language is a great way to have a better overall travel experience. Locals will most likely be more welcoming and helpful to you once they find out that you are able to understand them and speak their language.

Being a polyglot gives a person a sense of fulfilment, in fact, the ability to speak a second or third language increases self-confidence or self-esteem. Some people need to learn a new language as a necessity for their work or for their livelihood, and others simply make it a hobby to learn a new language or other things. But no matter what the reason behind the desire to learn a new language, one cannot help but feel a sense of fulfilment at the end of the language course. There is also that feeling of pride in yourself for what can be considered a personal improvement. A feeling of being your best self because you have learned something new and it is also useful.

Finally, speaking more languages is fascinating and multilingual people are considered very attractive because they seem smarter, are creative, typically have an insatiable curiosity about their surroundings and enjoy going out and exploring the world. Also, having an accent is known to be very seductive.

Being polyglot has benefits and advantages that distinguish a person from their peers. Although most language learners and enthusiasts claim that learning a language is not an easy task, the benefits outweigh the challenges. In fact, there is simply no downside to being polyglot or learning one or more new languages. And with the continuing globalization of the world, it is always beneficial to think about the future and be on top of everything. If you want to explore the world, learning new languages will also help you achieve this goal.

Written by: Martina Sassi, Staff Writer
Language Exchange