How language learning can improve your life for the better

Pearson Languages
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Reading time: 7 minutes

Language learning is more than just something you study—it's a strategic move that integrates into every aspect of your life—socially, professionally and mentally. With English often being the common ground for global business, communicating effectively in this language has never been more important.
In this post, we uncover the benefits of language proficiency, particularly in English, backed by relevant statistics and insights from Pearson's recent ground-breaking new research.

Earn up to 80% more with better English skills | Pearson Impact of English
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The transformative power of language proficiency

Did you know that 20% of the world's population speaks English as a first, second, or additional language? This underscores the vital role English plays in our global society.

Our research illustrates a compelling link between language proficiency and career development—highlighting that 80% of employees see English proficiency as critical for determining earning potential.

Fluency in English or any widely used language can boost your employability. It isn't simply a line on a resume; it's access to opportunities, potentially higher salaries and greater job satisfaction. Yet a noticeable gap exists between the language learned in formal education and the practical skills needed in the workplace.

What are the benefits to learning English?

There are several benefits to learning English or any new language but here are just a few examples to give you reasons to start learning today:

Bridging the skills gap

Here's the kicker—linguistic agility offers more than just a competitive edge professionally; it fosters better communication, enhances collaboration and enriches relationships in both personal and professional lives.

But how do modern language learners adapt to this demand? Gen Z learners are trailblazers, often turning to self-service apps and social media videos to refine their English capabilities. Interactive technologies like online games and chat rooms find favor with this tech-savvy generation, reflecting a dynamic shift towards digital fluency.

Salary and social benefits

Speaking multiple languages boosts your social game; it positively correlates with higher salaries and elevates job opportunities. English proficiency is seen as a transformative investment, one that shapes both professional and personal dimensions of life.

Interestingly, the financial advantages of being proficient in languages, especially English, are significant. Studies suggest that bilingual individuals can earn between 5% to 20% more per hour compared to those who speak only one language. This "language premium" varies by industry and location but generally holds true across a range of professions.

With globalization at its peak, the ability to communicate in English not only enhances job prospects but directly translates into economic benefits. Language learning is not just an academic achievement but a smart career move.

There's growing advocacy for a skills-based approach instead of focusing solely on vocabulary and grammar. Practical application in speaking, writing, listening and reading can close the gap between classroom learning and real-world requirements.

Increase your cognitive ability

Learning foreign languages is proven in scientific research as a great way to retain brain power in a challenging way. Studies show brain changes in electrical structure and size when studying other languages —changes that are rare if learners learn a specific task or ability.

It is possible for someone (no matter their age) to gain more experience with linguistics and to learn more languages. Read more on our post ‘Being bilingual can help keep your brain in good condition’.

It makes other languages easier too

We often learn a language without consciously understanding its rules and many of us have no idea what rules they're going by. However, learning another language means learning all about the rules. Often, those who have learned their first language find themselves learning more of their native language, such as a more accurate vocabulary and a more accurate vocabulary than they expected. When you learn other Indo-European languages (for example French), you will likely find considerable quantities of borrowed vocabulary that will help you understand English.

You have access to more information and entertainment

Being more proficient in English also enables you to enjoy more digital content. Approximately 60% of online content is in English. This large amount of English online not only shapes the digital landscape, but also influences access to information and entertainment. For English learners, this dominance may represent a barrier to a wealth of knowledge and cultural exchange.

Equally, for those fluent in English, the language helps because it opens up an expansive universe of information, educational resources, cutting-edge research and global entertainment options that would otherwise be inaccessible. From streaming the latest Hollywood blockbusters to participating in online courses from prestigious universities around the globe, proficiency in English significantly expands your digital horizon.

Access world-class education systems and establishments

The other reason students have for studying English is that you'll have access to the world's best educational institutions. Some of the top universities in the world are either in the United States and Britain or use English in their courses and this means that English is crucial in applying. A high level of English is essential for a student studying in English at university.

Start a life in an English-speaking country

Another advantage of studying English is it offers the potential of moving to a foreign language country. Usually, to become a citizen in an English-speaking country, you must be fluent in English. Speaking and learning English can help increase job chances, improve communication skills and help people converse and communicate successfully.

Build deeper connections with more people

30% of people are learning English to make more friends, and it's no surprise. By being able to speak another language you can communicate clearly to a wider range of people, not only in your personal life but also professionally. This ability fosters deeper, more meaningful relationships and can open doors to understanding another culture and experiencing diverse cultures more intimately. Almost half of the respondents said that improving their English proficiency boosted their confidence levels in other areas of life, not just at work. The more progress you make, the more confident you feel.

Language proficiency enables you to engage in conversations beyond casual conversation, allowing for a richer, more authentic exchange of ideas and traditions from other cultures. The joy of connecting with someone in their first language is a rewarding experience that broadens your perspective and nurtures a global sensibility.

Boosts your confidence

Learning a new language, especially English, requires stepping out of your linguistic comfort zone. It can significantly boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. People with a lower level of proficiency often feel that better English would make them happier in life. The process of learning a language is empowering, and every new word learned and every conversation understood serves as a milestone, reinforcing the learner's belief in their abilities.

Sometimes, unclear communication can be a setback to your confidence, especially in a professional setting. Our research has discovered that 72% of the respondents believe their job would be easier if they had a better grasp of the English language. Furthermore, only 10% of employees with limited English proficiency feel that they can articulate themselves fully at work.

The confidence gained from improving language skills can extend to work and other areas of life, motivating you to take on challenges you may have previously avoided. Essentially, the process of learning a language not only leads to proficiency but also personal growth. This creates a positive feedback loop where increased confidence results in even greater language skills, which, in turn, fosters more confidence.

How English improves lives

We have discussed some examples of how English can assist you in your daily life. However, do not just take our word for it:

“English literally saved my life many times. When I was a student, I struggled with motivation. I didn’t like any subjects, didn’t do homework, and didn’t read books. But then my English tutor helped me fall in love with English. English became an escape for me and a chance to develop a new identity as a curious, passionate and capable learner.

99% of everything I read and learned happened in English. Later, when I came to the US, English helped me survive and move from low-paid, manual jobs to better-paid jobs that required effective communication: server, bartender, and English teacher.

To this day, English is the superpower that helps me work alongside my colleagues and world-class experts and make a difference.”

- Illya Gogin, Director of Product at Pearson

If you're a language learner, a student about to enter the job market, or simply interested in the power and benefits of learning a language, there are a world of resources available. The GSE is an amazing tool that can help you achieve your language goals, make sure to read more about how it can improve your English proficiency here: The Global Scale of English for learners.

Ready to start reaping the benefits of language learning? Read our report to uncover more enlightening statistics and details that could chart the course of your language learning adventure.

Learning a new language isn't just an educational challenge—it's a step toward a more vibrant, connected, and fulfilling life. Embark on this linguistic voyage and watch the world open up in ways you've never imagined.

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    The benefits of taking part in foreign exchange programs

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    If you are a student or one considering a gap year, the option of foreign exchange programs may have crossed your mind or been mentioned to you. More and more young people are taking advantage of exchange programs and reaping the transformative benefits that come with it.

    Let's have a look at some of the reasons why taking part in an exchange program can be a life-changing experience and how it can help you more than you think.

    What is a foreign exchange program?

    A foreign exchange program is an educational initiative where students have the opportunity to study abroad and immerse themselves in a different culture for a specified period, typically ranging from a few weeks to an entire academic year. These programs facilitate cultural exchange by allowing students to attend foreign schools or universities, live with host families or in dormitories, and engage in activities that foster intercultural understanding and personal growth.

    The primary aim of a foreign exchange program is to provide students with a global perspective, enhance their language skills, and expose them to different educational systems and cultural practices. By stepping out of their comfort zones, students can develop independence, adaptability and a deeper appreciation for diversity.

    What are the benefits of a foreign exchange program?

    1. Cultural immersion and global perspective

    Embracing diversity

    One of the most immediate benefits of an exchange program is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. Experiencing new customs, traditions and ways of life firsthand fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of global diversity. This cultural immersion helps break down stereotypes and broadens your worldview, making you more open-minded and adaptable.

    Develop cultural understanding

    Living in a foreign country teaches you how to navigate and respect different cultural norms and practices. This cultural competence is increasingly valued in our interconnected world, enhancing your ability to work effectively in diverse environments and making you a more attractive candidate in the global job market.

    2. Language proficiency

    Enhanced language skills

    For language learners, an exchange program is an opportunity to achieve fluency. Experiencing a language firsthand is one of the best ways to learn a new language. Being surrounded by fluent speakers provides constant practice and exposure, accelerating your language acquisition in ways that classroom learning alone cannot match. You'll develop better pronunciation, expand your vocabulary and gain confidence in your speaking abilities.

    Real-world communication

    Using a new language in everyday situations—whether it's ordering food, asking for directions, or making new friends—helps solidify your language skills in a practical context. This real-world communication practice is invaluable, ensuring that your language proficiency extends beyond textbooks and exams to actual, meaningful interactions.

    3. Academic and professional growth

    Academic enrichment

    Exchange programs often provide access to unique academic resources and teaching methods that differ from those in your home country. Exposure to new perspectives and approaches can deepen your understanding of your field of study and inspire new areas of interest. Additionally, studying abroad can enhance your academic credentials, making your CV stand out to future employers or academic institutions.

    Career opportunities

    Experience abroad signals to employers that you possess qualities like independence, adaptability and cross-cultural communication skills. These attributes are highly sought after in today’s job market. Moreover, the networking opportunities during your exchange can open doors to international internships, job placements and collaborations that might not have been available otherwise.

    4. Personal development

    Building independence and resilience

    Living away from home in a completely new environment challenges you to become more self-reliant and adaptable. You'll develop problem-solving skills, resilience and the ability to thrive outside of your comfort zone. These experiences build character and prepare you for future challenges, both personally and professionally.

    Forming lifelong connections

    The friendships and connections you make during your exchange program can last a lifetime. You'll meet people from various backgrounds, creating a global network of peers and mentors. These relationships can provide support, inspiration and opportunities long after your exchange program ends.

    Boosting confidence

    Successfully navigating life in a foreign country, mastering a new language, and achieving academic success abroad can significantly boost your confidence. This newfound self-assurance can positively impact all areas of your life, giving you the courage to pursue further opportunities and take on new challenges.

    5. Engaging with the local community

    Volunteer and community projects

    Many exchange programs encourage participants to engage with their host communities through volunteer work or community projects. This engagement allows you to give back to your host country, gain a deeper understanding of local issues, and develop a sense of global citizenship. It's a rewarding experience that fosters empathy and reinforces the importance of contributing to the wider world.

    Gaining valuable work experience

    Participating in volunteer and community projects during your exchange program can provide significant work experience that is highly attractive to future employers. These projects often involve teamwork, problem-solving and project management, all of which are essential skills in any professional setting.

    By contributing to local initiatives, you can demonstrate your ability to adapt to new environments, work with diverse teams, and handle responsibility. Furthermore, these experiences can fill gaps in your CV, showcasing your proactive approach to skill-building and community involvement. Engaging in meaningful projects not only supports your personal growth but also highlights your commitment to making a positive impact, a quality greatly valued in any career field.

    Where can I sign up for exchange programs?

    There are many organizations and programs that offer exchange opportunities for students and language learners. Some popular options include:

    • Study abroad programs through universities or colleges, which often have partnerships with foreign institutions. Check with your institution.
    • Government-sponsored programs such as Fulbright or Erasmus, (depending on your location).
    • Check non-profit organizations in your country, they may also offer exchange programs.

    Conclusion

    Taking part in an exchange program is a life-changing adventure that offers myriad benefits for students and language learners alike. From enhancing language proficiency and cultural awareness to boosting academic and career prospects, the experiences gained through an exchange program are invaluable. By stepping out of your comfort zone and into a new world, you open yourself up to endless possibilities, personal growth and a broader, more inclusive perspective on life.

    If you're a student or language learner considering an exchange program, seize the opportunity. The world awaits, and the benefits are boundless.

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