Lesson Transcript


Chigusa: Welcome to a special Inner Circle Audio Lesson! I'm Chigusa and I'll be your host. My co-host today is the founder of InnovativeLanguage.com... Peter Galante!
Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here.
Chigusa: In this Inner Circle, we’re talking about...
Peter: The 20 Benefits of Learning a Language.
Chigusa: And today, you will learn...
Peter: ...which of these benefits are true
Chigusa: ...and which are debatable…
Peter: Based on my 30 years of experience with learning languages.
Chigusa: Listeners, welcome back to the Inner Circle.
Peter: Last time, you learned how to reassess your language skills
Chigusa: How to see your language progress over time
Peter: And how to do it with our lessons, study tools and the assessment test.
Chigusa: And the big benefit to re-assessing yourself is... Listeners, your motivation skyrockets.
Peter: Because, if you get a bad grade on the re-assessment test, you get a brutal reality check.
Chigusa: Yes, you learn where you need to pick up the pace.
Peter: ...or if you pass, then you know you’ve improved.
Chigusa: But either way, your desire to improve and keep going… goes up. And Peter, last time, you promised 17 minutes of conversation... AND 3 pages of writing.
Peter: Chigusa I hit those goals. But, I have some bad news. We only have 1 month left.
Chigusa: We do! Time flies.
Peter: So, it’s going to be close but I think I can’t hit my original goal of 30 minutes.
Chigusa: Peter, if you hit 20, that’s still good. You did start from 0 back in January.
Peter: Wow, Chigusa, you’re so nice today. Normally, you’re so tough.
Chigusa: End of the year special.
Peter: So yes. 20 minutes would be good but I am not giving up, Chigusa. 30 minutes.
Chigusa. So, Peter, you’ve been learning Korean these past 11 months.
Peter: Yes.
Chigusa: You’ve done other languages. You know Japanese. You’ve been learning languages for...
Peter: ...over 30 years.
Chigusa: You’ve been at this for a while. So, for today’s Inner Circle, I have this list of language learning benefits, and I want to know your take on them. And if you experienced any benefits.
Peter: Now, that’s a great topic to talk about. Let’s give it a shot.
Chigusa: Okay, I’m going to read out each benefit. And you tell me if you agree or disagree with each one.
Peter: Again, these are my personal opinions/perspectives, so, even though there’s data supporting some of these, I’m just going to give my personal perspective on these. Alright, ready.
Chigusa: Okay, the first benefit of language learning is... it widens your job opportunities.
Peter: Strong agree. I think the more proficient you are, the better. But even knowing just a little bit of language and culture gives you things to talk about and reasons to approach native speakers. So, this leads to increasing your networking skills...
Chigusa: Yeah and that can lead to job opportunities.
Peter: Exactly. Here’s a concrete example. I was at a party recently and met a Korean speaker who was fluent in English. But because I know some Korean and had a good understanding of Korean culture, I was able to have a really deep conversation very fast, get their contact information, and even though I’m not fluent, I met a very important person in a very big company that took an interest in me just because of my rudimentary knowledge of the language and understanding of the culture.
Chigusa: And if you’re bilingual?
Peter: And if you’re bilingual, without a doubt, you have more opportunities.
Chigusa: Number two: It boosts brain power.
Peter: Hmm, I’d say inconclusive because I’m not sure how to measure or quantify that. Chigusa?
Chigusa: Do you feel any different?
Peter: Well, I feel smarter for studying these languages all the time. For example, spending 1 hour a day - but maybe that’s because of just a habit - spending an hour a day studying instead of watching tv probably makes you smarter and gives you more things to talk about.
Chigusa: Yeah, it’s not something you can easily confirm, right?
Peter: Yeah, I think that’s a tough one. Chigusa, what do you think - do you think studying a language makes you smarter?
Chigusa: hmm, I think it activates your brain more so... maybe? In the right context, it will?
Peter: Okay, so agree from Chigusa. So, some studies say learning a language makes you a better communicator but could also because you know more things, and can talk about different things. Also language forces you to listen more. And listening is actually the most important part of communication. So, this is a tough one, Chigusa, I say, inconclusive to boosting brain power, because I don’t know how to measure it.
Chigusa: Okay, Number three: Languages expand your chances to travel.
Peter: Strong agree. One of the best rewards of studying a language is traveling to a place where it’s spoken. And your experience is drastically different when you speak, or try to speak, to natives in their language. People are happy that you’re learning their language.
Chigusa: It also gives you something to aim for. If you’re studying Italian, now you have a great excuse to go to Italy.
Peter: Exactly, and recently this summer on a trip to France, just by attempting to speak French, I felt that the people were much kinder. Maybe they were kind to everyone but they spoke back even know they know that my French was not good. They spoke back in French, so, yeah, I had a much better experience on a personal level.
Chigusa: Number four: It Improves your first language
Peter: For me, that’s English. And a strong, strong agree. When you learn a new language, a strong understanding of your own language is critical to progressing faster.
Chigusa: Yeah, you have to learn things like... "what’s an infinitive?"
Peter: Yeah, I don’t even know what that is, but I’m just kidding. That’s a great example, Chigusa. Exactly. So you have to understand what that is - and how it works in the first place, before you can understand it in your target language. So, yes, learning a second language definitely improves your understanding of your native language.
Chigusa: Alright, number five: it increases your understanding of the world.
Peter: True. There are certain concepts that translate well across cultures. For example, you heard of the proverb: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do?”
Chigusa: Yes, I’ve heard of that. There’s a Japanese one similar to it: 郷に入れば、郷に従え
Peter: And can you tell us the literal meaning?
Chigusa: When you enter a village, you do as they do. Or you follow their rules.
Peter: So, it’s kind of like "When in Rome." When you visit the place, you do as they do. And it shows you how the Japanese people think.
Chigusa: Yes, there is another similar one: 一石二鳥。
Peter: One bird two stones. So, there are many concepts that are shared among people that speak different languages, however, there are also many very original and unique ideas. In English, we have a saying, "a piece of cake" that means something that’s easy to accomplish. Now, the corresponding Japanese is...
Chigusa: "朝飯前"
Peter: Before breakfast. So it means something so easy that it can be done before breakfast. These are 2 very different concepts of what entails easy, so by understanding these sayings, these proverbs, and understanding the way of thinking, it can give you a different view on the world.
Chigusa: You know, I think for Japanese natives, they feel they can be more direct in English.
Peter: That’s interesting because Japanese learners mention how they feel more polite when speaking in Japanese. So by understanding and thinking in a language, it can even affect politeness levels or directness because of the way the language is spoken. Excellent example, Chigusa. So, learning a second language can definitely change your perspective.
Chigusa: Number 6: You get to experience new cultures
Peter: Strong agree. When you learn a new language, you explore different things. Some of those things are...
Chigusa: Movies, music, restaurants
Peter: So, by going to new restaurants, watching movies, or just visiting places as a tourist, you find different things you gravitate towards. So, this is a strong agree that by learning a new language, you find new things that you may be interested in - sports and etc.
Chigusa: Number 7: Learning is an achievement in itself.
Peter: Strong agree. Self growth is one of the biggest, if not the biggest reason why people learn a language.
Chigusa: And for our users as well. We did a survey a few months ago.
Peter: That’s right. Many people listed “personal goal” as their main reason. And the fact is, we all have goals and dreams. We want to achieve them.
Chigusa: And by learning a language, you can prove to yourself... that “yes, you can do it.”
Peter: You’re right, Chigusa. And that’s a great feeling to have. So, definitely a strong agree.
Chigusa: Number 8: It Improves your memory. What do you think?
Peter: Inconclusive. I can’t say that my memory has gotten better.
Chigusa: Really? Not at all?
Peter: I kind of see my own memory as a pool of water. Wonderful crystal clear water. And every fact I learn, it’s like a little pebble being added in, so some of the water gets pushed out.
Chigusa: But Peter, you do remember a lot of the language that you’ve learned...
Peter: I do. In the case of Japanese, it’s because I use it daily. But if you gave me a memory test: 20 numbers to memorize right now, I’m not sure if I could. I think there is some interesting things, you can make connections, some words sound the same in different languages, but I don’t know if it actually improves your memory. In fact, some words I forget as fast as I learned so I would say inconclusive. I don’t think it hurts, but I'm not sure if it helps me. Again, this is my personal perspective.
Chigusa: Number 9: It Improves your ability to multitask.
Peter: Strong disagree here. I think multitasking is one of the biggest cons perpetrated on people. I don't think multitasking is a good use of time. I don’t think you can do multiple things at once. Chigusa, what do you think?
Chigusa: There’s a saying in Japanese.
Peter: What does that mean?
Chigusa: When you go after two rabbits, you get none.
Peter: Ah, yeah, I think that sums up multi-tasking. Okay, Number 10: It sharpens the mind. For example, bilingual people are better critical thinkers.
Peter: Hard to say. Again, for me, inconclusive. I think a lot of things come down to your ability to focus. So, If studying a language helps you focus, then I agree. I can say that you tend to be more logical in your second language....
Chigusa: Because you look at the words literally, right?
Peter: Exactly. In English, your choice of words can carry different emotions. I can say “yeah sure” sarcastically and people will pick up on the sarcasm. But, if I hear a “yeah sure” in the language you’re learning, I don’t know if I can get all the connotations or emotions that I want to convey. I tend to speak a little more simpler, a little more direct, because I’m not as creative, so, maybe speaking a second language, you might be a little more critical because of some of the limitations to the language resources you have.
Chigusa: Yeah, so you’re more logical in that sense.
Peter: You have to translate first and get the meaning. So, maybe in that sense, it helps you be more logical.
Chigusa: Number 11: It enhances your decision making.
Peter: Inconclusive.
Chigusa: Really?
Peter: Well, with my life decisions...? I don’t think that, I don’t know.
Chigusa: Oh, Peter, I’m sure you made great life decisions.
Peter: Well, Chigusa, today you’re so kind, I really like it. One thing about studying, studying a language, you’re working towards a goal and if you get very into it, you can spend hours a day doing something positive and I think that studying a language is a super positive activity. So, you’re spending time, you’re focusing, you’re working towards a goal, so in this context, studying a language is a very positive activity for you. So, if you’re doing this, it probably has benefits that resonate to other areas in your life. But I don’t know if it’s the direct result that you’re studying a language, it makes you help - better life decisions. I’ve had plenty of poor decisions in the languages that I’ve studied.
Chigusa: Also, if you’re studying a language, you’re more likely to try studying abroad... or travel. And those are good decisions, right?
Peter: I think fundamentally, that’s true. You can end up making some interesting decisions as a result of learning a language. But again, it’s such a tricky question. Chigusa, what about you, do you agree?
Chigusa: I agree. I don't know, maybe it makes you make more ... interesting decisions, more adventurous decisions when you study a language.
Peter: Tough questions. So everyone listening, please feel free to share with us your thoughts on some of these questions. Again, right now again, we’re just going through my personal perspective on some of the things that are out there that are said about learning a language, and from my personal perspective, ignoring all the data that’s been accumulated.
Chigusa: Then Number 12: It Improves academics in other areas
Peter: Yes, I agree here. I think the more you learn how to learn, the more disciplined you become, so the better you get with other areas.
Chigusa: So, if you’re consistent with language, your work ethic tends to apply to your other goals like diet, fitness or your career.
Peter: Exactly. They’re not mutually exclusive. Learning how to build positive routines that helps towards every goal that you want to achieve. Whether it’s good grades in school, a promotion, so learning how to sit down and put in the time and get better at using the time you set aside, I think that’s very, very important.
Chigusa: Number 13: Your Networking skills improve.
Peter: Definitely agree here. We actually talked about networking in the first point. Basically, your language gives you more things to talk about. And you can use that to establish common ground with new people. In addition, I think speaking in a foreign language for the first time takes a lot of confidence. It’s quite intimidating to speak in a language you’ve been studying for the first time so, getting better at that, learning how to talk to people in a language you don’t know gives you confidence in other areas and improves your communication skills in general. So this one I strongly agree with.
Chigusa: What about this one: Number 14: Your brain gets bigger.
Peter: Hmmm. Well, studies say language learners have more gray matter. So I’m not a neuroscientist, so, I don’t know.
Chigusa: Yeah, you can’t really tell, can you?
Peter: Not without going to get some before and after brain scans. But, if we have neuroscientists listening in...
Chigusa: ...Yes, please feel free to share your expertise! Number 15: It stalls Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Peter: So, this one is statistically proven. For bilingual people, Alzheimers, the average age, or Dementia/Alzeimers, the average age of where it starts is about 75, where monolingual people, it’s about 71. So, I do think there is some benefits - some clear benefits to studying. But again, this is caused by - you have healthier habits because you’re not at the bar for an extra hour a day. You’re not watching TV. So, I think just fundamentally, it’s a good routine, a positive routine to be studying every day.
Chigusa: Number 16: You get to make new connections.
Peter: A definite yes. Whether for business or personal connections. You definitely get a lot more connections.
Chigusa: Number 17: It boosts your creativity.
Peter: Inconclusive. I’m not sure. Maybe it does but creativity can mean so many different things. So, nothing really comes to mind, Chigusa.
Chigusa: Yeah, we’d have to define creativity first. It’s a bit broad. Is it artistic creativity? Coming up with new ideas? Okay, so number 18: It boosts confidence.
Peter: Strong agree here.
Chigusa: Really?
Peter: Again, I think there’s a certain type of confidence that comes with learning a new language. It’s almost easier to start a conversation in the target language you’re learning than in your native language.
Chigusa: Oh, what do you mean by that?
Peter: Well, think about an elevator. If you’re on an elevator with someone and you want to say something to them.. in your native language, that something should be witty, right?
Chigusa: Yeah, that’s true. Something that will catch their attention and make a good impression.
Peter: But if it’s not your native language, you’re limited - even by saying hello, you can start a conversation by doing that. I think definitely, this can add to your confidence.
Chigusa: Alright, number 19: you get to connect with your family or ancestry.
Peter: A strong agree here. A good portion of our users started learning because they have family that speaks a specific language. So, when they want to connect with them better, the language allows that.
Chigusa: Or, if you have a certain ancestry, you’d want to learn the language that your family spoke....
Peter: ...and reconnect with your roots. So, exactly.
Chigusa: And the last one, number 20: love. Peter, do you think learning a language helps with that?
Peter: Oh, boy, this is a, I think this has been an interesting exercise. But I don't think people want diplomatic responses on this. So, I will say yes. Chigusa? What do you think?
Chigusa: Yes.
Peter: Again, I think you have more opportunities to meet people, the more languages you speak. I like what Chigusa said. I think if you study a language, you might make more adventurous decisions. You might be more interested in travel. Or people traveling to where you live. And by being able to speak with them and communicate, or just start communication - that’s a critical step in making connections. So, I’m going to say strong agree. Chigusa?
Chigusa: Strong agree.
Peter: Alright, Now, here’s one more benefit - bonus benefit - of learning a language that we didn’t talk about. And it just came to me now, Chigusa.
Chigusa: Hmm, what is it?
Peter: Being bilingual is a very well respected skill. It’s kind of like a martial art in a way.
Chigusa: Yeah, when people find out you’re bilingual, they always want to know more.
Peter: Exactly. They want to know how did you learn, they want to know how did you do it? They want to know about your journey. Actually, Chigusa, the big deal is - your bilingualism shows that you can successfully execute a plan. So, when people ask about how you’ve done something, they want to know how you executed a plan...
Chigusa: ...Yeah, so many things in life start with a goal and a plan.
Peter: Like buying a house. Career. Financial freedom.
Chigusa: So when they ask “how you did it?...”
Peter: What they really want to know is, “How did you create a plan and stick to it.” Once they understand this. The next question is...
Chigusa: “How long did it take?”
Peter: And then they start asking other questions, “oh wow, do you have any advice for me.” And, this all spirals into quite a fun discussion.
Chigusa: So you get to talk to people longer, right?
Peter: Exactly. This is a much more interesting talking point than some of the other things like - the weather or sports - which can also be very interesting but people seem to be always so interested in “How did you learn their language?”
Chigusa: Well Peter, this was fun to talk about. But now, let’s talk about your next goal.
Peter: For my next goal, I’m aiming for 30 minutes of Korean conversation. So, I’m on pace to come up a little short this year but... let’s see what I can do in this last month.
Chigusa: You can still reach 30 if you keep going. By February or March of next year.
Peter: I could if I set my goal lower next month but let me try to push it. Because maybe we’ll have some holiday magic.
Chigusa: What’s the deadline?
Peter: December 31st.
Chigusa: Sounds good!
Peter: And listeners, tell us.
Chigusa: What language learning benefits have you personally experienced?
Peter: Shoot us an email at What language learning benefits have you personally experienced? Shoot us an email at inner.circle at innovativelanguage dot com.
Chigusa: And we’ll see you next month!


Chigusa: Well, that’s going to do it for this special Inner Circle lesson!
Peter: Bye. Everyone!
Chigusa: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.