Constantly feeling “lost in translation” isn’t going to help you blend in with a foreign culture, however learning that local language will get you closer to feeling included in the culture and you’ll tap into some surprising benefits.

Language is the core foundation of understanding any culture and its society. In fact, an icebreaker to get to the heart of local culture and its people! More than often, native speakers will be intrigued when non-native speakers express themselves in the local tongue. It may also amuse them to hear someone with a foreign accent trying to speak their language. This way you can either get the chance to connect with locals or at least for your efforts you may receive a smile in return! It’s amazing how learning a new language can help you bridge the communication gap and social gap as well.

And let’s be honest, some things just don’t make that much sense when translated into a foreign language. Everyone at least once in their lifetime has felt what it’s like to be “lost in translation.”

You know how “desi” words or slang lose their essence when translated into English? You will be surprised to know that it happens even when English slang or phrases are translated into Hindi. Now it makes sense why it is in your best interest to learn a foreign language, right? Especially when you are going to be spending semesters abroad for your education! Apart from this, fluency in other languages looks impressive on your CV, too! Mandarin Chinese, French, Arabic and Spanish, for example, are extremely useful according to Bloomberg Rankings.

Learning a second language also has major benefits for your brain. Researchers have found that learning a new language can literally make your brain bigger. People who can speak more than one language fluently get lots of other benefits – like a better memory, increased creativity and greater mental flexibility.

These are all skills that will put you in good standing as you travel to a new city and country for your studies. There is even more good news as you grow older! Studies have also found that Alzheimer’s disease and the onset of dementia are diagnosed later for bilinguals than for those who only speak one language.

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These perks don’t come for free – it takes quite a bit of hard work. Although early childhood is the best time to start learning a new language, these benefits aren’t exclusive to those lucky ones who start learning from birth. It’s never too late to start.

Follow these expert tips to learn a new language!

  1.  Speak From Day One

Polyglot Benny Lewis swears by this piece of advice, encouraging learners to make mistakes. You won’t sound stupid even if you don’t sound correct at first in your attempt to wrap your tongue around foreign sounds, instead, give yourself that pat of appreciation on shoulder! That at least you’re giving it a shot and that’s why he suggests his students to fearless and speak – no matter how bad they sound at first. Being okay with those mistakes will give you a confidence boost that’ll carry over to learning other skills without fear – another unexpected benefit to becoming bilingual.

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      2.  Exercise While You Learn

It goes without saying how exercise has proven to benefit the brain in memorizing, remembering and understanding new vocabulary. And light exercise while learning a new language will also help your memory and retention power. In a study, students learned while cycling on stationary bikes, but doing some light exercise before and after your lessons should do the trick. Through exercise, your body releases neurochemicals that prompt the brain to produce more new brain cells, increasing our ability to learn.

  1. Create Learning Opportunities Everywhere

Dedication to practicing is key to succeeding at learning a new language, so make it easy for yourself by bringing the learning into everyday life. Label everything in your home with its name in the foreign language you are learning. Change the language on your phone or browser. Watch your favorite movies in a different language. According to the volunteer translators who create subtitles for TED videos, these little reminders will add to your study time and speed up your learning process.

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     4. Make It Useful, And Fun

You’re already going to have plenty of self-study to do for your qualification – adding to that list won’t get you far. By making the learning process relevant, you’ll be more interested. For instance, if theater is your passion, then write and memorize dialogues and scripts in the language you’re trying to learn. “Mondly” takes language learning experience to a whole new amazing level! With its recorded audio lessons and assisted voice recording feature, you can learn to speak any language with the perfect native accent!  And interactive fun quiz games at every level of learning make sure that you get feedback on your progress at each step.

  1. Join A Community

Being able to ask questions and learn with others is invaluable. If you’re struggling to find someone in your area, you can always look online. Reddit has dedicated communities built around different languages, or you can join the flourishing community on Duolingo. There are many fellow-learners on the platform ready to help and answer questions, so don’t be afraid to ask. And as your skills grow, you’ll be able to help others in turn!

As with learning any new skill, you won’t always feel like practicing. Remind yourself why you’re learning a new language and of all the many benefits you’re getting. Before you know it, you’ll have unlocked a new world of friends, food, art, and experiences through language.

You can also give your language learning a head start by enrolling at a school that specializes in providing academic language pathways. Western University has a dedicated English language center that supports international students who face challenges speaking, reading and writing in English. Find out more here.

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About the Author: Corli de Kock studied journalism and art history in a small little town in South Africa, away from her safe home nest. She's tried her hand at many things, journeying via rock 'n roll to social strategy and eventually copywriting. She's still figuring out what the next thing will be, gathering skills, lessons, and friends along the way.

About the Co-Author: Mustafa Sutarwala is an all-round creative marketing graduate from Amity University Dubai, and is currently working in Dubai. He's inclined to digital marketing communications and works as the Creative Ninja for SchoolApply.