What are some of the positive impacts of learning a second language? Based on A Review of the Literature on Second Language
Learning carried out by a team of researchers from the Language Research Centre at the University of Calgary in 2004 and revised in 2006, we wanted to share some of the information they learned through their research.

COGNITIVE IMPACT

  • Speaking more than one language might enhance bilinguals’ focus and ability to ignore irrelevant information.
  • Bilinguals outperform monolinguals on many cognitive tasks including solving problems, multitasking, remembering
    longer lists of information and switching between tasks.

ACADEMIC IMPACT

  • Children receiving second-language instruction often show higher achievement in a range of subject areas, including
    mathematics, science and language arts.
  • Learning a second language enhances second-language learners’ grammatical knowledge and awareness of speech
    sounds and sentence structures.

PERSONAL IMPACT

  • Learning second (or multiple) languages leads to enhanced communicative abilities, including the use of verbal and
    nonverbal skills, perspective-taking skills and interpersonal understanding.
  • Learning a second language enhances creative ability by promoting unique problem solving, flexibility and creative thinking.
  • Learning a second language can contribute to increased connection to cultural identity and family history, and facilitate
    communication with relatives.
  • Knowing a second language can act as a source of pride and self-esteem.
  • Second-language learning strengthens tolerance of ambiguity and awareness of different cultural perspectives and practices.

SOCIETAL IMPACT

  • Second-language learners demonstrate enhanced empathy, awareness of diversity, tolerance of difference
    and a greater sense of social justice.
  • Learning second languages encourages learners to embrace scientific, social and environmental ideas
    originating from other parts of the world.
  • Second-language learning promotes international dialogue, collaboration and engaged global citizenship.
  • Second-language learning promotes the development of cultural identities and contributes to a deeper appreciation for
    the transmission of culture through language.
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