7 Ways Language Can Affect Learning


How great would it be to be able to master one or multiple languages? Learning other languages can help conquer another level of knowledge that can help enhance your cognitive skills. It could be intimidating to speak in front of others, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

From a baby’s babble to computer code, language is communication. If successful, language increases your ability to learn new things, improves your I.Q., and enhances critical thinking. Likewise, if your language is inhibited, learning is negatively affected.

Whether you are learning a second language or how to sign for the hearing impaired, language affects your learning in a multitude of ways. It can be an easy way to communicate with others as long as it is something that you are interested in learning and have time to devote. Keep on reading if you want to know more about the different ways that language can affect learning.

Increases Ability To Learn

Language can increase your ability to learn other things! Research tells us that the brain is ripe for learning from an early age, yet also develops at a different rate for each individual. Learning is also affected by environment conditions. However, when the brain learns one thing like language, this can improve learning of other things. Let me explain.

The brain can acquire more knowledge based on our neuroanatomy. The different neurons in the brain increase the brain’s ability to synapse, allowing the brain to process information faster. This allows you to learn faster by creating more connections in your brain. Neurons are continuing to develop, and as you practice those skills, you will be able to process information faster and learn more.

The simpler way to explain all of this is that the younger you are, the easier it is to learn, and the older you are, the harder it is to learn.

And that goes for whatever you are aiming to learn! 

So what does this mean for learning a second language? You might think that learning other languages can positively affect the learner. You would be right. And, learning one or multiple languages can increase a person’s ability to learn other subjects or even understand some things faster than others. 

Learning a language that is not your native language can increase your ability to learn, but it varies based on different age groups. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to learn other languages if you are older. It just means that it takes more effort to get there. I address this further in another article here.

Neurons are continuing to develop over your lifetime, and as you practice those new skills, or a new language, you will be able to process information faster and learn more. This also can aid in helping your brain overcome the affects of injuries or old age.

In the case of the younger age group, it is beneficial to learn another language at an early age for the following reasons:

  • Can help improve math skills 
  • Can help Improve reading skills
  • Can help improve writing skills

It is possible for those learning a third language to focus on learning the new language without confusing the other languages that you have already learned. According to a study relating to the cognitive benefits that being bilingual can have on the person, it can be advantageous because this person will be able to have extensive word knowledge.

Language Can Increase Certain Insecurities In Students

Language can affect your ability to learn in a positive or negative way based on your aptitude for insecurities, too.

It is easier to teach someone another language at a young age. Allowing a child to have exposure to other languages will give them the confidence that they need to execute those languages. Once the language is mastered, you will have to continue practicing the language to retain those skills. 

Adults tend to have a problem with failure and embarrassment for making mistakes. This is in direct contradiction with something that most adults know. Making mistakes and failure is part of the learning process. Yet, we can’t seem to get over the perceived stigma that will come from using the wrong word or pronouncing something incorrectly. Insecurity follows.

Usually, children don’t think about saying something wrong. Instead, they are excited to learn new things. Consequently, children are more open to a conversation or even teaching others what they know. 

This isn’t always the case in children, but it is more likely that children will be more comfortable with mistakes and trying out all areas of a new language. They are less likely to strive for perfection in delivery and simply want to communicate their wants, opinions, and needs.

It is common for a child to forget something if they are not exposed to it regularly. Therefore, parents need to continue giving their children positive praise to encourage learning. Trying things without an overactive inhibition is not the usual problem children face. It is consistency that is their nemesis.

Insecurities in children are not common, but there is always the possibility that such insecurities can develop if you meet someone with whom you cannot communicate. It is important to have a solid support system that can assist you and help you bypass the language barriers. 

Ways Insecurities May Manifest Themselves

It is a higher possibility that insecurities may occur if the one learning another language is an adult. These are some reasons that can cause an increase in insecurities as an adult learns or speaks a language that is not their primary language. 

  • The person becomes afraid of saying the wrong thing. It is possible that if you are having a conversation with a person that dominates that language, you might become vulnerable and will not want to speak with confidence.  
  • If a mistake is made, he will not want to speak the language. It is common to have the initial confidence to have a conversation. Once that conversation is interrupted by being corrected, the person will either not want to talk anymore or will accept the suggestions to improve their skills. 
  • Speaking in front of an audience that dominates the language. It can be intimidating to speak in front of an audience in another language, especially if you have not mastered the language. 
  • If someone tries to speak and others, make comments. If you grew up speaking the language that your parents know, it is possible that you can confuse words or sentences. There is a chance that people around you will make comments about the way you speak. 

Ways You Can Overcome Insecurities

No matter what new skill you are working on, it can be intimidating. However, there are certainly tactics and suggestions to help you overcome insecurities and to be successful in your learning.

If you are not bilingual, you will come across someone who speaks a language with which you are not familiar. There is also the possibility that you learned the language, but you are not fluent enough to hold a conversation. If your skill is not perfected, it can be difficult to feel included in conversations.  

If your insecurities are preventing you from speaking, there are things that you can consider before giving up:

  • Learning a language doesn’t require you to have perfect fluency. 
  • It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s even expected.
  • Seek a one-on-one conversation.
  • Visit the place that the language is spoken to become more familiar with it. 
  • Native speakers many times like the fact that you are simply trying to learn their language. (My husband and daughter have even had the question, “Why?” asked of them many times.)

Both children and adults are constantly exposed to situations that can make anyone feel uncomfortable. It can raise many insecurities if you begin speaking in a language that is not your primary one or you don’t feel like you dominate it.

Increases Language Skills 

Normally, you are able to distinguish between what is important and what is not. This is due to how the brain functions and how learning another language can result in improved cognitive abilities. 

Your cognitive abilities begin at an early age, allowing you to retain information as you grow older. 

Your brain automatically knows the difference between the languages resulting in better execution of words. This can be beneficial in a classroom setting because executing words appropriately can help you be more articulate. 

A bilingual person has some advantages that generate positive outcomes, such as:

  • Having articulation skills: Different languages require different diction and pronunciation, expanding the ability to speak two diff languages. 
  • Having functional communication: It effectively portrays your perspectives and shares your ideas with others to watch common understanding and having the ability to speak different languages. It allows you to have different conversations with people.
  • Having a proper selection of vocabulary: Having an increased vocabulary allows you to have more opportunities to understand other sources of information. It gives you a chance to express yourself better. 

Once you learn another language, you can enhance the way that you communicate by talking to others.  

Early exposure to other languages increases language skills without even realizing it. This Is something that you begin to develop as you begin using those skills. It is common to begin experimenting with new words and phrases as you begin expanding your language skills.

Improves Problem Solving Skills 

Learning a new language allows you to develop multiple skills. These skills are normally developed without you noticing because they come naturally as you expand your knowledge level. 

If you are bilingual, your brain must switch back and forth between one language to another. It is a way of exercising our minds without overdoing it while giving us the ability to quickly breakdown tasks faster. 

In education, someone who can speak one or more languages can come up with problem-solving solutions faster. Ways that you can do that is by:

  • Being creative: If you don’t know how to express certain thoughts, you can find ways to say what you want to say by finding other methods to do so. 
  • Developing simpler ways to study: Language learning helps develop simpler ways to study because it improves memory skills. 
  • Learning how to be more sociable: Being more sociable facilitates problem-solving skills by learning how to get better at speaking the language.  

There are Personal and Professional Benefits

Using the techniques listed helps you have a better understanding of your primary language. You will begin to find unique ways of facilitating things for yourself.   

It is common to see someone struggle to put thoughts together because learning a language can be challenging. Someone that is beginning to learn other languages automatically finds ways to connect the language. 

Someone that is good at solving language problems happens to know how to solve any difficulty in their life. The efficiency process is increased by allowing you to know how to problem-solve without thinking too much about it.  

Developing these skills will be beneficial personally, and also in the professional field. 

Learning A Language Improves Memory 

Learning any type of language requires a boost in memory function. Thus, learning a second language requires a lot of skill. (To read more about how language learning is a skill, read here, where I addressed that in detail.) It is important to know that learning other languages can help increase brain function. 

Let’s talk about how the brain works in the simplest forms. The brain controls how you see, feel. Talk, hear, and remember. Remember that the more you use your brain, the more functions are activated. This process is known as:

  • Encoding: When information enters your memory, it is comprehended and stored in your memory. 
  • Storage: Once information is learned, it gets stored in your short-term and long-term memory. 
  • Retrieval: The way that information is accessed and reconstructed by what is in your memory.

Multilingual people tend to have a better memory because they exercise their brains more by having to utilize different language skills at different times. 

Having the ability to speak multiple languages can be an advantage to any person of any age. There are short-term and long-term effects in learning other languages.

Normally, speaking other languages requires you to remember a lot of information. Your working memory is in good shape because it is constantly processing information. You have the ability to filter out what is important and what is not at any time.  

Short-Term Effects

Learning other languages at a young age can be easy because it can improve memory. A child’s brain is automatically open to gathering any information that will be developed into valuable information. 

Our brain is constantly working to connect information that will either be delivered or discarded. This is why it is important to know how our brain works when you collect new information. 

Some of the short-term effects of learning another language are as follows: 

  • Increases brain function levels: As you learn new languages, your brain is momentarily working to process this information. 
  • Facilitates the function of working memory: When you learn a new language, you begin to associate important information with recognizable words to you.   

Long-Term Effects

The way your memory works changes over time. The languages that you learned are not forgotten if you continue to use them. You have to continue to engage your brain by doing stimulating cognitive activities.  

Some of the long-term effects of learning another language are as follows:

  • Improves memory as you get older: The constant use of the different languages can help the brain retain the memories that you built over time. 
  • Protects from future age-related Illnesses: Knowing other languages helps the brain maintain health. Using different languages allows the brain to work and helps prevent illnesses such as dementia constantly. 

Language Affects Cultural Awareness 

Some children learn a second language at home. Parents tend to teach their children their native tongue, allowing them to have an advantage. This advantage can be facilitated by perfecting the language and utilizing it in other places. 

Learning a second language at home is helpful, but there are others that do not have this advantage. Learning can take place in other settings, such as:

  • Private lessons
  • Living in other countries
  • Schools 
  • Self-Teach

Different languages can be tied to certain gestures or behavior. It is common to be unfamiliar with certain words if you have a conversation with a native speaker. Having cultural competence will help you maintain a conversation without feeling that the unfamiliar words will ruin the conversation. You have the opportunity to use your knowledge to the best of your ability. 

When you learn a language, you are also learning about that language’s culture. To be able to use the language better, you can learn more about the places connected to the language and the people who speak it natively; this helps you learn about the culture. 

Regardless of how you learn another language, it is important to be sensitive to other cultures and their beliefs. It can help you expand friendships and future travel experiences that will allow you to use the language you learned to your advantage.  

For the multilingual ones, it is very helpful when talking to someone who understands the same language. It can bring a sense of cultural awareness by not just being able to understand but also learning about other cultures. 

Language Expands Career Opportunities

Whether you are learning a new computer language, a sign language, improving your natural language, or adding a second language, you can positively impact your opportunities.

Think about the advantages that a bilingual person has. The additional language skills can give you a career advancement compared to others who are unilingual. You will be able to utilize your skills to make new career choices.

Language Demonstrates Goal Setting

Depending on the job, you can increase networking opportunities. You can increase capabilities and relate to consumers who are bilingual. As well, learning a second language demonstrates to employers and corporate hierarchy that you are a risk-taker and willing to face challenges; also that you know how to stick to something to accomplish your goal.

The demand for bilingual people in professional fields has increased dramatically. Many companies seek employees that can help them expand their clientele. This means that these companies want someone to connect with potential clients and to assist in expanding their markets. 

Language Affects Travel Opportunities

It can even give you the advantage of traveling to other countries, where you will be able to use the languages you have learned.  

Fluency in a second language opens you up to business trips for your job. However, your second language needs to be professionally connected to your profession for this opportunity to work. If this is something you are interested in, approach it carefully and research it first.

Overall, being bilingual or multilingual will set you apart from others, and open up better career opportunities.

  • It can lead to having higher salaries. 
  • It gives you an advantage in the company. 
  • It gives you a connection with other coworkers.
  • It promotes a more positive attitude towards others that speak the same language. 
  • It sets you apart from most of your colleagues (if you are in the United States).

Just remember, being bilingual has many advantages in the professional field that can benefit your career in ways that you do not think seem possible. You have the opportunity to foster better relationships with your clients by helping you relate and effectively communicate with them. 

Many clients don’t expect you to master their language perfectly. In reality, the effort to communicate with them will bring more respect and admiration for the effort that is being made. Why not even create lifelong relationships that can be beneficial in your future career? 

Final Thoughts for 7 Ways Language Can Affect Learning

Being a bilingual person can have many advantages as well as some disadvantages. Learning other languages -regardless of the kind or type of language-can affect learning, depending on the age group.

Many children find it easy to learn and execute a new language. Many adults can learn a new language, but it will require more effort, and they may have a harder time being comfortable speaking it. Much of the problem is mental and realizing no one expects perfection.

People who are bilingual can communicate effectively with more people than the ones that are unilingual. It is a matter of how each person executes their abilities to learn. It doesn’t have to be intimidating as long as you approach it correctly, and use what you have learned to enhance those abilities. 

Additional Sources:

https://www.theeducatoronline.com/k12/news/the-impact-of-language-on-learning/253500

https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/9-factors-that-influence-language-learning

https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/why-learn-languages/early-childhood-elementary/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583091/#!po=5.00000

https://bokcenter.harvard.edu/how-memory-works

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, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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