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Benefits of Learning a Second Language: From Cognitive to Career

Did you know that there are more than 6,000 languages spoken in the world, and around 150 languages are spoken in large American cities, such as New York and Washington DC? Yes, right here in the nation’s capital numerous languages circulate the streets. What’s more, employers are seeking multilingual employees, especially in major US cities. Whether it be for cognitive benefits, professional progress, or personal enrichment, the benefits of investing in a second language are huge.

Cognitive benefits – upgrade your brain functions

My mother has been studying English for more than 18 years now. Seeing her work with grammar (she is a grammar freak), I often ask her why? For one, she was worrying about getting Alzheimer’s, and secondly, learning English vocabulary by heart was as natural for her as a yogi doing a downward dog. However, she is quite right. Speaking more than one language may delay the onset of dementia. On average, bilingual patients of Alzheimer’s disease faced the onset of symptoms 4 years later than their monolingual counterparts. Additionally, bilingualism or multilingualism help with other cognitive tasks: multitasking, performing concept-formation tasks, following complex instructions, and switching to new instructions. However, there is a drawback. Bilinguals may have smaller vocabularies and take longer time to retrieve words from a memory. Personally, I can agree with that. But don’t worry. Studies have shown that bilinguals tend to perform better on attention tests and have better concentration skills than their Google-translate using colleagues.


Personal and professional network expansion – make more friends!

Signing up for a group language course is a great way to meet new people, make new friends and grow your professional network. That applies especially in such a large, cosmopolitan city as Washington DC where students work in a diverse set of industries. Group classes are highly interactive and engaging – great ingredients for meaningful networking. Additionally, with a second language, you can participate in cultural events related to your language and bond with speakers from different parts of the world during your travels.


Career Advancement

Who wouldn’t like to be the only person in an organization with a specific skill? Foreign language skills are very valued by employers, and even if you are currently in a position where a language is not a requirement, you might turn out to be very valuable when your company makes a new contract with a business overseas, needs a translation of a key document, or has an opening for a business trip abroad. You can prove your language competence by taking an internationally recognized exam. In Europe, most companies offer free foreign language training for employees who are interested. Not only can language training help employees perform better (cognitive benefit), but also it can give employers advantages by hiring multilingual staff, improving employees’ communication skills, and enhancing their cultural awareness. Additionally, many international organizations offer pay increases if you pass a language exam!


Can I afford to learn a language?

It’s important to remember that learning a language takes time and should be perceived as a long-term investment in yourself. As with most skills, consistency and preserverence are critical traits that language learners must posses during their path to language fluency. Fortunately, there are many class options available to suit different types of language learners for different budgets. At ICLS, below are courses that may fit you best:

Online group language classes

– Offered in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, French.
– 10-week course that meets for 20 classes per session.
– Great for beginners or low intermediate learners.
– Good for low-budget learners.

Part-time Private Instruction, Semi-private Instruction, or Customized Group Instruction

– Offered in 85+ languages both in-person and online.
– Flexible scheduling from 4pm-9pm on weeknights and 10am-3pm on weekends.
– Great for all levels: beginner to advanced
– Customizable curriculum for specific goals
– Good for medium-budget learners.

Full-time Private Instruction

– Offered in 85+ languages both in-person and online
– Daytime intensive schedule from 8am – 1pm or 12pm – 5pm
– Great for all levels: beginner to advanced
– Customizable curriculum for specific goals
– Good for high-budget learners.


Author: Eliska Prushankin

Eliska - ICLS teacher

Eliska has been teaching Slovak and Czech at ICLS for almost a year. Growing up in a family full of teachers, she fell in love with teaching at an early age. Teaching languages allows her to connect with people from different countries, something that she treasures. 

The research used to write this post was sourced from the following sites:


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