Why Learn a Second, Third, or Fourth Language?

It takes somewhere from 720 hours to 1320 hours of learning a language to gain a decent level of proficiency above the survival level. We can argue how we would define proficiency, but the point is this: language learning takes time, effort, and commitment. So why do it at all?

Whether it’s learning a new language from another region of your country or from another country, we all have our reasons for doing so. I’ve compiled my own selection here.


Whenever I stumble across signs in real life, pictures, or movies, product labels, website content, and other content in a language I’m learning and I get to understand some of it, I feel empowered. I gain self-esteem because I know that I’m becoming a better person. I feel that I can achieve more in the world, make my life better, and contribute more—all because of something that I learn and continue to learn.

Access to Content in Other Languages

Have you ever followed a website link or opened a search result item only to find it’s in a language you don’t understand? What if you can?

Being a global lingua franca, English websites constitute 68% of the internet’s 346 million plus websites. That leaves 110 million websites in other languages. That’s a lot! Even if you were to visit one site per minute, it would take you 209 years to visit them all. Think of how much content you have access to if you learned an additional language or improved your skill in one you’re learning.

In my case, the more I studied and learned Chinese (Mandarin), the less sites like Youku looked alien. While it’s still not within my comfort zone to browse and read Chinese websites, they’re starting to become less intimidating.

It’s Fun!

Language learning is fun because you can learn things that are totally different from your experience. You’ll find interesting overlaps as you connect the language you’re learning to your native tongue (or tongues). For example, the Mandarin pronunciation for the Chinese word 吐痰 (tǔtán), has a sexual connotation in my native language, Filipino.

It’s Good for Your Brain

Language learning is good for your brain. By learning another language, you get to stave off Alzheimer’s when you get older by delaying the aging effects on the brain. It’s like brain exercise!

Another site reports enhanced problem-solving ability and superior memory function.

I haven’t observed these benefits myself, being young and having not measured my memory function, but hey, why should I not reap these benefits as well?


There are others like travel, interacting with visitors, career opportunities, showing off. You may look at other sites for these more common reasons.

What are you waiting for?

If you aren’t currently learning a language, whether it’s learning a new one or improving your level, why not? The time is now. If you are, then I encourage you to keep at it.

So, what about you? What are your reasons?