Learning a second language

With the new decade just three weeks old, New Year’s resolutions are high on the agenda. Folks have all sorts of good intentions for 2020 and for some it is learning a new language.

In the UK, only 34% of 15 – 30 year olds speak a second language. That’s very few compared with Denmark where 99% of young people speak a second language. Germany’s young stand at 91% according to a recent study of the Higher Education Policy Institute.

But which second language to learn? Which language gives you a competitive advantage? The answer may well be German, the mother tongue of over 100 millions Europeans in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, parts of Belgium, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. You may object as most of these German speakers also speak English. To counter that, let me quote Germany’s former chancellor Willy Brandt: If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.

Besides giving you a competitive edge on the labour market, speaking a second language also delays the onset of dementia in old age and improves your memory and cognitive abilities.

A recent study even suggests that learning a language makes the brain grow. Now, let us not get too bigheaded and rather implement your New Year’s resolution of starting to learn German!

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