Language learning has been taking off as the world becomes more globalized with access to communication tools and technology.
Duolingo recently announced that they have hit 60M users, which goes to show how fast the demand is growing.
There’s a good reason for it, language learning has been proven to provide numerous benefits for our brain health.
However, what’s rarely shared is the benefits of language learning when it comes to entrepreneurship and becoming a better entrepreneur.
From discovering new problems, making better decisions, to improving your communication skills — learning a foreign language can help you think differently to increase your chances of success.
Let’s go over the 7 ways language learning can make you a better entrepreneur.
1. A Global Mindset
Thanks to the advancement of technology, we’re playing in a global market and we must think about how our products, services, and messaging comes across potential customers from around the world.
When you are able to understand more languages, you will inevitably understand more cultures, and open your mind up to a new world.
You will also be able to identify different problems and solutions that arise in other parts around the world. This opens up more opportunities, as you can choose to fulfill the need or bring an existing solution into your local market.
Learning a new language will force you think bigger than the limited geographical location you’re currently limited to, and help you become a global entrepreneur.
2. Develop Empathy
When you first begin to learn a new language, you begin to immerse yourself in the culture you’re learning the language for.
I remember when I first started learning Spanish in Argentina and Colombia, I wanted to know everything from how people in South America lived, what their lifestyle was like, and everything about the culture.
But in order to learn, I had to develop an open-mind and learn how to listen. Unfortunately, this is what few of us do as we live our daily lives.
Developing empathy is crucial when you’re starting a business. You need to be able to get out of your own head, and put yourself in the shoes of your potential and current customers. Everything from understanding the pain points of your customers, how they think, and where they hang out online are all enhanced through developing empathy.
3. Increase your Mental Agility
Numerous studies have shown that learning a new language will improve your cognitive function, and even prevent dementia.
Multi-linguals are more perceptive to their surroundings and therefore better at focusing in on important information while weeding out misleading information
We can all attest to the importance of focus and how effective time management can be for the success of our business.
For any multi-taskers out there (which is all of us), polyglots are also known to be better at multi-tasking. This is attributed to the practice of mentally switching from one’s native language to the foreign language they are learning.
As an entrepreneur who’s starting out, there’s over a dozen hats we need to wear: from customer development, marketing, book keeping, customer service — the list goes on.
If that sounds incredibly tiring, then learning a new language should help train your brain for it.
4. Build your network
If English is the only language you speak, you’re only able to communicate with 17% of the world in this moment. That’s 83% of the entire world that we have yet to tap into.
Depending on the language you learn (i.e. Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese) you can often double the % of people you can communicate with around the world.
The more languages you know, the more people you can build a relationship with — whether it’s online through networking sites or in-person as you travel the world.
As mentioned before, globalization is allowing us to extend our products, services, and businesses across the world, and any contacts we foster internationally will be more beneficial than ever.
5. Improve your decision making
Another surprising benefit to language learning is the enhancement of decision making.
Multi-linguals are also better decision-makers. According to a new study, they are more resistant to conditioning and framing techniques, making them less likely to be swayed by such language in advertisements or political campaign speeches.
Those who speak multiple languages have also been shown to be more self-aware spenders, viewing “hypothetical” and “real” money (the perceived difference between money on a credit card and money in cold, hard cash) more similarly than monolinguals.
How do you make better decisions? Practice by making more of them frequently.
Part of the reason language learning improves your decision-making skills is that when you’re learning a new language, you are consistently making small, conscious decisions about which vocabulary to use, how to structure the grammar, and what accent you should speak.
Often, the success of our business is correlated with the quality of the decisions that we make through our journey. CEO’s, executives, and startup entrepreneurs do everything to train their decision making skills, from meditation to exercise to receiving mentorship.
You can add language learning to that treasured list of solutions for better decision making.
6. Improve your communication skills
Whether English is your first, second or third language, learning a new language will help strengthen the other languages you already know.
Learning a new language exposes you to a whole different world of grammar structures, sentence construction, conversing, and the fundamental roots of the foreign language.
This isn’t something that we experienced when we learned our native language, because we grew up speaking it.
By studying the roots of a new language, you can transfer the knowledge you’ve learned to better undersatnd your native language.
Think of it as: if you were to start and build a second business, you could take your experience and knowledge to improve your first, existing business.
“You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”
— Geoffrey Willans
7. Gratitude and self-actualization
Perhaps the best thing about learning a foreign language is it helps you learn more about yourself.
For me, it was also the most surprising result. Adapting a new language and culture helps you understand more about your own, and even appreciate your origins and upbringing.
We learn about how we view life, what needs to be improved, and how we can make our mark in this global world.
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