Foreign Language Learning: A Holistic Approach to Life


Learning a foreign language is important for several reasons. It can alter the way you see the world leading to a change in your mindset. It not only helps in enhancing the communication skills but also makes one appreciate other people’s point of view and help build a good interpersonal relationship with people from different cultures. Learning one or more foreign languages add to the valuable skills that you can acquire in your lifetime. If you want to communicate with people across the globe, learning different languages will be necessary. Although English is the lingua franca in today’s world, we should remember the saying by Nelson Mandela: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

Communicating in a foreign language improves the brain functioning and cognitive skills. Experts say that speaking more than one language may increase the overall size of the brain. Learning a language involves memorizing rules and vocabulary, that strengthens the brain. It improves overall memory. Multilingual people are able to remember better lists or sequences. It’s a known fact that learning a foreign language can keep the mind sharper and can reduce the effects of dementia by up to seven years. For adults without foreign language skills, the average age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4 years. For adults who speak two or more languages, the average age is 75.5 years.

According to a study by the University of Chicago, multilingual people tend to make informed decisions. Those who use different languages often recognize nuanced differences and subtle implications in the verbal exchanges. Their brain becomes stronger and has better memory retention. This is why students who learn more than one language in schools tend to score higher in standardized tests compared with their monolingual counterparts. Foreign language promotes multitasking also. In terms of speaking, writing and structure, multilingual people of all ages can skilfully and seamlessly switch between language systems. According to a study by the State University of Pennsylvania, this juggling with language makes them good "multitaskers" because they can easily switch between codes. In a study, participants used a driving simulator while performing other distracting tasks at the same time. The research found that people who speak more than one language made fewer mistakes overall.

The advantages of learning Foreign Languages are ever increasing as the world becomes more and more globalized and multilingualism has now become the most useful skill. The changed market situation requires polyglot employees. Career in international business requires knowledge of more than one language. Learning a new language can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It not only opens up international job opportunities but also increases the chances of highly paid jobs. Nowadays, many companies list foreign language skills as a prerequisite. Jobs in customer service, sales, retail, tourism, transportation, administration, marketing, banking, education, and public relations almost always require a foreign language. Government agencies, the travel industry, communications, education, international law, economics, public policy, advertising, scientific research, and a broad range of sectors all have needs for people with foreign language skills. For example, international organizations such as the United Nations and companies such as Apple or Microsoft are looking for people who can conduct business negotiations in more than one language.

A recent UK survey points out that the main European languages are most in demand. French was mentioned by 54% of those surveyed, German 51% and Spanish 50%. India too for a long time has a strong culture of teaching-learning of foreign languages. Amity University has been a pioneer in offering foreign language courses ever since its emergence thirty years back. Amity School of Languages at Amity University Rajasthan also trains students for international language certification as per Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) that is recognised worldwide. Many are cracking job interviews due to their proficiency in foreign Languages irrespective of their varied streams in engineering, life sciences, humanities and liberal arts. The school wishes to do more in future to increase the employability of the university students.

Ms. Ruchi Pawar
Assistant Professor of German Amity School of Languages University Rajasthan

Prof. Dipa Chakrabarti
Professor and HoI, Amity School of LanguagesAmity Amity University Rajasthan

Amity University Rajasthan