It seems like every few months, another study is released touting the benefits of learning a second language. Not only is it helpful for travel and work in our globalized economy, but it even helps learners strengthen and develop different parts of their brains that otherwise aren’t getting much exercise, which is pretty amazing on its own. Learning a second language, in short, makes you smarter – or at least makes your brain a more interesting place.
Around the world, English is one of the most popular second languages for students of all ages. In some countries, it is a mandatory class for primary, secondary or even university students, while other school systems require students to demonstrate proficiency in English before they can graduate. This popularity isn’t because English is such a pretty language (don’t worry, nobody thinks that), but rather because so much global commerce and communication is done in English, making it a crucial skill for anyone who hopes to work on the international level or study in an English-speaking country – not to mention it helps understanding all those popular songs and movies!
Every person has his or her own reasons for wanting to learn a second language, whether it’s for business or just to understand the menus at restaurants. Some of the advantages of learning English, however, are nearly universal, and can help all ESL learners along the path to personal and professional success:
- Language skills. Sure, it may seem like stating the obvious, but it’s impossible to overemphasize what an important job skill a second language can be. As more and more business, development and plain old interactions done on a global level, it’s more important than ever to be able to interact with a larger population and audience. If you already speak Mandarin, acquiring English skills means you can suddenly communicate with almost half of the world’s population (well over half if you count other ESL learners). Of course, English skills are just as helpful on the micro level as they are at the macro level. Now if you’re invited to a conference in New York or a presentation in London, you can go with the security that you won’t have to rely on a translator to understand what’s happening.
- Better communication abilities. Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but this goes much farther than simply being able to understand people you couldn’t before. Learning a new language opens up an entirely different world of communication tactics, styles and practices. English language learners often find that English is much more direct than their native language, using shorter sentences and stronger verbs, rather than doing verbal aerobics to get to a point. While this can be hard to get used to at first and can even seem rude for some people, it can make both speaking and writing far easier once you realize you only have to use half as many words as you would in your native language.
- Cross-cultural understanding. A huge complement to learning a second language is learning about the cultures that use that language and how they do so. Learning grammar rules is one thing, but it’s almost impossible to grasp why English speakers speak so abruptly without understanding the relative informality of many verbal interactions. Even details that seem minor, like which people are typically called “Mr.” or “Ms.” can make a significant difference in effective communication. This is especially important when it comes to gauging context and different kinds of vocabulary – without understanding the difference in formality between spending time with friends and attending a business meeting with CEOs, it would be challenging to determine why you would want to avoid certain slang words or even styles of greetings (high fives and fist bumps might work for your friends, but probably wouldn’t be best in a board meeting).
- Confidence. Confidence isn’t just a key characteristic in the dating world; it’s also vital to have it at work and in interviews. Having faith in your own ability to do something, and do it well, will help you tackle just about any project or responsibility without panicking. Learning and mastering a new language gives you a different perspective on your own talents and abilities – if you can learn to do a presentation in your second or even third language, then coming up with the content for the presentation itself should be a breeze!
Though learning English as a second language has plenty of other benefits, how you access those benefits depends a lot on what you learn, how you learn and where you choose to learn English. Read on for more insights into some top ESL programs that will help you achieve your language goals.
TAFE QUEENSLAND GOLD COAST – AUSTRALIA
TAFE Queensland Gold Coast is the largest public provider in Australia’s Gold Coast region, offering more than 300 courses to over 16,000 students annually across its five campuses. It is part of the TAFE Queensland network, which has more than 130 years of experience in providing technical and practical education and currently provides services to more than 180,000 students annually. At TAFE Queensland’s modern English language preparation centre, students from around the world develop the skills necessary to continue in higher education, expand their career options or pursue other personal and professional opportunities. Read the full profile.
SYDNEY TAFE ENGLISH CENTRE (SITEC) – AUSTRALIA
Sydney TAFE English Centre – SITEC is a modern English language preparation center where students from every corner of the world come to gain the skills necessary to go on to further education, improve their career prospects or to open up many other opportunities. SITEC is part of one of the largest and oldest educational establishments in Australia – TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute – where approximately 70,000 students enrol every year, including 3,500 international students. It is located within Sydney TAFE’s Ultimo campus – a vibrant, modern, university-style campus right in the heart of Sydney. Read the full profile.
KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY – USA
Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a public comprehensive institution situated at the heart of the beautiful region of Kennesaw, Georgia. Home to around 25,000 students from 130 countries, Kennesaw is the third largest university in the state and offers a total of 90 bachelors, masters and doctoral degree programs across its nine colleges. The University’s unique programs for new and transferring students are steadily garnering plaudits for excellence; in fact, KSU’s first year seminar program is consistently ranked by US News as one of the best in the country. Read the full profile.
CENTER FOR ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE (CESL), SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY – USA
A world leader in the sphere of higher education, Southern Illinois University (SIU) is a state university in the United States, with its flagship campus in Carbondale, Illinois. SIU has been in operation since 1869, and has since been named one of the best universities in the Midwestern U.S. by The Princeton Review. Given its reputation for high-quality research, small class sizes and high value for money, SIU is a leading choice for international students keen to pursue undergraduate or graduate study in the USA.
RICHARD LANGUAGE COLLEGE – UK
A world-class provider of English language tuition, Richard Language College is one of the longest established private language schools in the U.K.. Students of all ages and from all walks of life choose this institution for its innovative approach, experienced staff body and dedication to achieving excellence. In addition to the College’s proven record of high-quality language instruction, students also benefit from a broad spectrum of courses that can be tailored to suit virtually any level of expertise.