Gone are the days in which only those of a higher class have the opportunity to learn English. In today’s world, English is becoming more than just a status symbol, but a bridge to the globalized world.
More than just an economic boost
Some studies show that a country’s English proficiency is directly proportional to its development and average income. This has resulted in many Chinese, Japanese, and Korean students getting enrolled in private academies or hiring private tutors with the desire to ace examinations and land good jobs.
While these may be true, these are not the only reasons why ESL learning can be beneficial for students.
The benefits of ESL learning
In learning English as a second language (ESL), one needs more than just extraordinary grades as a driving force to reach a higher level of proficiency.
Earning the cognitive and social benefits of studying and conversing in English could be a more rewarding goal to learn what is considered today’s lingua franca.
Why Learn English?
1. It opens a window to other cultures
With learning a language comes an inevitable immersion to an entirely different culture. Commonly used phrases or expressions can reveal what their people value the most. In many cases, there are words for ideas and concepts which have no equivalent in your language. This makes mastering their native tongue a fascinating peek into a country’s history and psyche.
The exposure to a new set of norms, unique traditions, and a different routine of daily life could improve one’s cultural awareness in a world where culture meets culture in every corner. With this awareness comes an appreciation for diversity.
2. Bilingualism enhances the mind
Children who start learning a second language at an early age showed better performance in other subjects such as reading and even math.
Studying another language fosters a creative learning environment for a child, where they write, analyze, memorize, speak, and interact with other learners, among many skills. They develop mental flexibility that they can then carry over to other subject areas. They bring this advantage with them as they age and can lessen the chances of cognitive decline in the long run.
3. Thwart the stereotypes
It is incorrect to assume that native speakers of English are much more intellectually superior to non-native speakers.
Regularly conversing in English can train a learner to comfortably express and exchange ideas with other native or non-native speakers. This can help overcome shyness and self-consciousness with the way they speak as beginners. Committing grammar or pronunciation mistakes along the way is a vital part of the road to higher proficiency.
Eventually, as non-natives gain fluency and confidence, they can give justice to the complexity of thought that they have, as well as the richness encased in their own culture.
In ESL, bi-directionality must be emphasized. Learning English is not to glorify it or the countries that speak it but to make understanding and engagement across cultures possible. An English speaker, whether native or non-native, can always learn a thing or two from whom they’re speaking.
4. Branch out to other languages
From the experience of many, going into learning a third or even a fourth language comes at more ease once they have mastered a second language. This is because they have been prepared to understand new rules of grammar and remember a larger amount of vocabulary in the past which enables them to make associations between fresh information and their previous learnings.
If you’re a beginner learner of English, take this as a journey that will gear you up to obtain more languages in your repertoire.
5. Build a network
Whether it be with fellow learners of ESL or native speakers of English, you can form cross-cultural networks of friendship that can further encourage you to gain higher proficiency. Having peers with whom you can practice within a casual environment can give a great boost of motivation.
Most parts of language learning, or at least its long-term retention, takes place outside of the classroom. Seeing a show, movie, or reading books in English, and then discussing it with your network can widen your horizons not only linguistically, but intellectually and socially as well.
ESL learning and the world
In a larger scope of things, English is used as a common ground for international collaboration and diplomacy. With access to knowledge discovered and developed across cultures, benefits can be reaped for individual nations and the world as a whole.
But an individual and the potential learner does not have to immediately look at the world at large to see reasons to study ESL. The benefits can be seen right in front of your very eyes.
Memorable life experiences, personal and cognitive advantages, comfort in a new territory, as well as lasting friendships come as a reward to ESL learning.