For the past six months or so I've picked up a bit of a new hobby: Learning German. Why did I pick German exactly? Hmm. Good question. Perhaps it's because I have a bit of German ancestry or maybe I think it's fun saying things with such a strong "ach" ending. Whatever the reason, I've been enjoying it. But in addition to just have a blast doing it, there's tons of research showing the brain boost we get by learning a new language. It's a great way to enhance one's cognitive processes, especially as we get older.

I've always found foreign languages interesting. I particularly like that there are certain words, phrases, and concepts that don't have a direct translation in English, as beautiful as the language of Shakespeare can be. So it's like discovering new "worlds of meaning."

For example, in German, one such concept is "gemütlichkeit." An English-speaker may hear it described by a German and explain "oh hey that's basically what we call 'coziness' in English." Then they would correct you. Because to them, it's a much more in depth concept. You can read more about it and other examples here.

By learning a new language, new concepts are opened up to you that you wouldn't have fully understood in the same way. and yeah, the same thing happens to those who learn English, too. So, it can certainly give one an appreciation for other cultures.

But in addition to that, there's lots of benefits to taking up a new language. It can enhance your problem-solving abilities, help you become a better multi-tasker, encourage creativity, and even help your communication skills in your FIRST language. But there are more. Read a more comprehensive list, courtesy of the Rosetta Stone website, here.

I'd also like to continue learning Spanish. I took Spanish in high school and college and I think it's a beautiful language. On top of that, this is Texas and it only makes sense, right? Simply being able to communicate directly with a growing percentage of the Texas population who list Spanish as their first language would be, in my opinion, a huge benefit.  

So, how have I been doing it? Well, I've primarily been using online apps such as Duolingo and the Nemo App. I find using them both gives me a fresh perspective on learning the language as they take a different approach. Experiment with what you like best. In 2019, there are many options. I would add that if you can find a friend or loved to one to learn it with you, it makes for a fun group activity and facilitates faster learning.

What language would you like to learn?