10 Ways Language Learning Can Contribute to Mobility

Some people come by language learning naturally. Maybe you grew up in a bilingual home and quickly picked up both of your native languages, or you took a class in high school and fell in love with the way another language sounded. Either way, dedication to immersing yourself in languages gives you mobility and flexibility. Without language competency, you will face untold barriers and find that even the simplest situations become unnecessarily complicated.

Language learning improves mobility in nearly everyone’s life through connecting with others to expanding career opportunities to increasing brain function and well-being. The benefits of language learning contribute to both physical and mental mobility.

Regardless of how easily a new language comes to you, there are significant, proven benefits associated with learning languages. Read on to discover how learning a second or foreign language contributes to increased mobility in almost every aspect of your life (and of course, the more languages you know, the more opportunities you have!). 

Language Learning Improves One’s Mobility in 10 Ways (and More)

It’s phenomenal once you start to grasp just how much language learning contributes to your mobility. From travel to career opportunities to relationships, learning a new language really opens up your world in more ways than one, or even ten!

Before digging deep into our topic, let’s look closer at what this actually means. What is ‘mobility’?

Merriam-Webster has two definitions that lend itself to our article:

1: the quality or state of being mobile or movable

2: the ability to change one’s social or socioeconomic position in a community and especially to improve it

By mobility, I’m certainly referring to the physical aspects of being mobile such as travel and relocating, akin to the first meaning. But I’m also talking about the the non-physical, abstract areas of mobility, too, as defined in the second manner.

Mobility of mind, so to speak, is when one can see beyond current circumstances and is ready to embrace new perspectives, ideas, and outlooks. Being mobile in your mindset is looking at all sides and willing to think creatively for solutions…’to think outside of the box.’

Language learning is not easy; and for most of us, it takes a leap of faith to even start. It also takes dedication, tremendous effort, and continued motivation to not give up. All of this is worth it, however, when you consider the mobility-and the accompanying benefits-offered in return!

I’m happy to share this with you below.

Language Learning and Connecting with Others

At times it can be challenging to feel connected to those around us and the larger world beyond our everyday bubble. One thing that has been proven to help with feelings of connectivity is language learning. By learning a new language, you open yourself up to a whole group of people and cultures that you might not have previously exposed to. 

With your new knowledge, you can read foreign news, enjoy foreign entertainment, and interact online formally and informally with others who speak that language. This ability has obvious benefits in a global business world, and those benefits extend to your personal pursuits as well. You’ll break through barriers associated with other cultures and begin to appreciate what other parts of the world have to offer.

Language Learning and Career Mobility

One way language learning makes you more mobile is with career opportunities. The career world used to be limited by snail mail communication, local industry, and hard-copy paperwork, but that dynamic has changed considerably. With the global, instantaneous connection that many careers have now, it’s no wonder that learning an additional language can take you far.

Throughout your career training and even into your well-established years, learning a new language opens up doors of opportunity. Career advancement is one of the main reasons people look to learn another language and it’s easy to see why. (Source: Dept of Foreign Studies, Auburn University)

You will be able to better relate to other cultures and colleagues while allowing for more diversity in your workplace. You’ll also be a more competitive candidate in interviews and more likely to land ideal positions. (Source: Eton Institute)

Careers aren’t just limited to one field such as the business world either. Learning another language expands opportunities in the education world, in service industries, and in small business pursuits. For example, some who learn a second language find instant work opportunities after college graduation as teachers of English in other countries. Because they speak the host country language it makes them more appealing to their employers for teaching English.

As well, those who speak another language can find job opportunities in restaurants, hotels, and retail in tourist sections of countries. It is easier for them to get these jobs because they are bilingual.

Language Learning and Education

Some schools in Louisiana actively work to revive French-speaking in the state, where it was once common place.

Learning a language can open infinite doors when it comes to your education, including contributing to your mobility. From primary school to higher education and beyond, you will benefit significantly from approaching your education with a second language in hand. I’ve written other articles on how language learning improves the brain, so feel free to check out those for more details, but the gist is you’ll have:

  • Better memory
  • Enhanced decision-making
  • Better problem-solving skills
  • Higher test scores

You’ll also be better at multi-tasking, concentration, and listening. There aren’t any downsides. Studies point to the fact that learning another language rockets your educational experience to a dynamic level unmatched in many other ways. (Source: Lead with Languages)

On a personal level, I’ve taught many English as a second language learners and can attest to the benefits I have witnessed. My ESL students show many more executive functioning abilities and improved areas of cooperation and collaboration than other students. This makes them much more flexible and able to handle unfamiliar areas from learning new skills to actually acclimating to new communities.

Language Learning and Travel

Learning a language for traveling can make your visit much easier.

There are some pretty obvious ways in which learning another language would be helpful for travel, thus contributing to mobility. It’s useful to know the language when navigating transportation or purchasing a particular item on the menu. Questions like “Where is the bathroom?” and “What is your name?” are pretty useful to know before you go.

When we’ve traveled to Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, it was certainly beneficial that my husband was/is fluent in German. Even though many in the area spoke/speak English, there were numerous times we encountered people who didn’t. From ordering food in a market to buying train tickets, it helped knowing exactly what we needed and being able to convey that in the local language.

A less obvious but potentially more fulfilling benefit is the ability to become fully immersed in the experience. Instead of feeling like an outsider, you will be able to truly understand what you are seeing, hearing, and tasting. You will connect on a deeper level with the people you meet instead of worrying about what they are saying and navigating your translation app. 

If you’ve ever met someone learning your language, you have probably noticed some words being misused or may have experienced a misunderstanding because of the language barrier. Knowing the local language fluently helps avoid these issues and makes your time traveling or living abroad so much better!

Language Learning and Speech – Moving From Mono to Bilingual

Listen to a 7-year-old being interviewed by her parents, speaking in both English and German.

There have been occasional rumors that teaching a child two languages delays their speech or makes them worse at speaking in the long run. While a bilingual child may take longer to perfect their speech than a monolingual child, studies have shown that the benefits far outweigh any possible delays early on and this ability helps make a child’s future more open, flexible, and mobile. 

Beyond childhood learning, a new language later in life can contribute to a better understanding of language structure and grammar as well as a more purposeful and intricate vocabulary in your native tongue. By learning a new language from the ground up, your brain deepens its connection with your native language, and you’ll come to understand both languages better, putting you at a distinct communicative advantage. (Source: ASHA

This mobility opens up your ability to speak to others on a personal level, and makes it less reliant on location. In today’s technological world, that is necessary! If you’re able to speak another language, you’ve increased the pool of friendships. No longer are you limited to just your neighbors or work colleagues, but you’re more mobile in making friends and building relationships, whether it’s via technology and social media or in person by going to cultural communities around you (of that language) or traveling to other countries.

Language Learning and Creativity

If you want to get in touch with your creative side, learning a second language might be the right way to do it. Language learning gives you the tools to view the world through a whole different scope, one that includes a new type of humor and a full new set of phrases and words to describe things that might be difficult to articulate in your native language. It might seem like a stretch, but this is also connected to your mobility.

Another creative benefit of language is that it makes you more comfortable with failure. As you stumble through the unknown terrain of a new language and make plenty of mistakes along the way, you’ll become more resilient to failure in other aspects of your life. This can potentially open yourself up for creative outlets you had previously been too nervous to try. 

Language Learning and Day-to-Day Mobility

Many exchange students adapt quickly to daily life in another country with a different language by relying on newfound friendships, useful language apps, and sheer youthful enthusiasm.

Think of the many things you do day-to-day that would become immeasurably more complicated if you couldn’t speak. Day-to-day interactions like ordering your breakfast, hailing a taxi, or even finding a place to live or stay for the night are much more attainable when you understand and speak the language. 

Whether you are traveling to another country for a little while or planning an extended stay, these seemingly simple interactions with language can significantly impact your life. The most prominent barriers to mobility occur when you cannot take part in life’s necessities due to language. 

Language Learning and Laws/Regulations

Living in a new country is a culturally challenging experience for anyone, but it is mitigated if you know the local language.

Laws vary drastically from place to place. Even within the continental United States, you may encounter different rules as you cross state borders. These differences only increase when you leave your country and visit a new one. 

To understand the laws and regulations of another county, language learning is vital. If you are planning to work, get a license, get certifications, or even attain travel papers, being able to speak the native language increases your chances that these things will be more successful. 

Language Learning and Healthcare On The Move

Healthcare has a language of its own, known as ‘technical jargon’. It’s certainly easier to understand when speaking the local language!

Healthcare also varies drastically from country to country. You might go through the process if you get injured or require hospitalization might not look the same depending on where you live or visit. You can visit another country and not require health services, but if it is needed, a firm grasp of the language would be advantageous. 

Not understanding your healthcare due to a language barrier decreases mobility. Studies have shown that that language barriers can be quite detrimental when connected to healthcare, so it’s especially helpful if you’re able to use the local language with your doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers.

You cannot fully coordinate your care with doctors or other healthcare workers if you don’t know what they say to you. Though translators can be a vital part of the process, you’d likely be more secure in your understanding of what is happening if you can speak the language. You want to get out of the hospital and on with your life, not languish while waiting for a translator. 

Language Learning and More Languages (Adorable!)

If you’re not impressed by 4 year old Bella who speaks AND reads in 7 languages, then well, I don’t know what would work for you.
The cuteness is overflowing as well!

Learning a second language increases your brain’s ability to learn and retain more languages, thereby contributing to your mobility in more areas than one language would have. It’s a gift that keeps on giving! Not only will you be able to move more freely through a new culture and the day-to-day life there, but you will have an easier time with additional cultures and foreign experiences.

As you dissect the new language piece by piece, your brain will create new neural pathways that open the door for further language learning. Your memory, concentration, and ability to multi-task will all be improved as you become more comfortable with the additional language.

Final Talking Point for Ways Language Learning Can Contribute to Mobility

There are many reasons to learn a second language, and every one of them allows you more flexibility and a greater grasp of the cultures that rely on that language. With language learning, you’ll find increased mobility and be able to move more freely between your known life experiences into more unfamiliar and exciting ways of living.

To recap, here are the 10 ways language learning supports mobility:

  1. Connecting with others
  2. Career Opportunities
  3. Education
  4. Travel
  5. Speech
  6. Creativity
  7. Daily Life
  8. Laws/Regulations
  9. Healthcare
  10. More languages

Language learning contributes to your mobility in all of the ten areas listed above and described in detail in the article. But this list isn’t exhaustive, as one could certainly add to it!

Even though learning another language can be quite challenging and takes a lot of work, the benefits I’ve shown you here make the trade-off worth it for many. Remember, as long as you have the desire and motivation, you can succeed!

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a licensed teacher for elementary through high school in 3 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the undergraduate level and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. She was a mentor for many education interns, department leader at various levels and organizations, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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