How speaking a 2nd language can change your mindset — and help your career

Speaking multiple languages can open your mind to different perspectives, boost creativity, and help you become a more rational thinker.


August 17, 2020

It’s time to dust off that old Spanish-language dictionary.

You won’t make an ass of yourself when that tapas place finally reopens … and it might change your outlook.

Research shows that speaking a 2nd language can open your mind to different perspectives, give you new ways to solve problems, and make you a more rational thinker.

This is your brain on languages

Polina Marinova, Trends contributor and founder of The Profile newsletter, described how her thoughts change depending on which language she uses.

In her native Bulgarian, she said she’s “straightforward, logical and thoughtful when selecting my words.” In English, she’s “extroverted, friendlier and more emotional in my decision-making.”

She asked: “Can speaking a different language change our thought patterns, and in turn, our perceptions of who we are?”

Science says this is a real thing

These mindset changes are well-documented: In one study, bilingual Mexican Americans were given a personality test in both English and Spanish. Participants scored higher in extroversion after taking the test in English.

This could be because American culture emphasizes assertiveness.

Speaking a foreign language can also sharpen your decision-making. It requires logic to choose the right words and put them in order. You’re more likely to make rational — as opposed to emotional — choices.

And you thought talk was cheap

A 2nd language can give you a different brainstorming strategy. Stuck on a concept? Try thinking about it in French.

As Marinova put it: Speaking multiple languages can help in “connecting disparate ideas while understanding there’s always more than one way to think.”

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