I love traveling! As I am in New York this week I thought it would be appropriate to talk about my love for traveling and how learning a new language can actually help you while you explore the world. I took Spanish when I was in high school and college but it wasn’t until I moved to Madrid that I actually began to learn another language. While you can learn a language without being immersed in the language every day, traveling to a place where the language is spoken gives you the opportunity to practice and understand how the language is used. As a teacher, I try to give my students this experience in our classes. They are given a glimpse into the worldview of being “American” while learning English.
Of course, the most direct benefit from learning a new language and traveling is to be able to communicate with people in different countries. Nothing is more vital than knowing how to say “Where is the bathroom?” in different languages, right? But learning a new language can extend into so many more areas of your life and changes to your worldview.
As neuroscientist, Mario Sigman states: “It's very hard to find places where people speak just one language It's not only beautiful, in a way, and it's not only a way that opens the possibility to talk to many more people and to learn more things and to broaden our minds to other places of the world, but also that it's somehow associated with intelligence.”
Learning a language helps your brain to adapt to your environment in more flexible ways. This, of course, is a wonderful asset for a traveler as much of what we do when we travel is about adapting and being flexible. The benefits of a bilingual brain go beyond just the skills you can apply to traveling, as seen in one of my favorite Ted Talk Videos, The Benefits of the Bilingual Brain.
Travel! I highly recommend getting out there and using the language. I know it is scary! Trust me, I know! But it an amazing opportunity to make new friends, find business or career opportunities, learn new customs and different ways of life. If you are looking for some travel website recommendations, look no further! I definitely recommend AFAR. I always share their posts on my Facebook page. Their lists are simple to understand and really useful as a traveler. I would also recommend The Discoverer which I also post quite frequently about.