Do Language Learners Have a Higher EQ?

Measuring a person’s IQ (Intelligence Quotient) has been common practice for decades. But in recent years, researchers have directed their attention to the study of a person’s Emotional Intelligence—their EQ.

You likely already know about the primary benefits of language learning, but did you know that learning a second language could boost your EQ? Here’s a closer look at how learning a language teaches students empathy.

What is empathy?  

Emotional intelligence can best be understood through empathy, which is the ability to understand other people and feel compassion for them. It is argued as being the most defining human quality because it sets us apart from other beings, like robots and animals.

Without empathy, we would not be able to work as a functioning society because we need empathy in schools, workspaces, and other areas that bind society together. Empathy involves a sensitivity to others’ emotions, understanding where their emotions came from, and responding to them in the right manner.

Where does empathy come from?

Babies do not have empathy, so where does it come from? Most children develop empathy naturally, while other children may react in inappropriate ways towards others’ emotions.

Children who have difficulties with empathy have no problems identifying emotional reactions, but they do have difficulties understanding the purpose of these emotions. It has been studied and proven that poor development of empathy in childhood leads to poor social skills in adulthood.

Why is language important?

Language is the soul of each culture. The ability to understand a language is crucial for historians and those who study international affairs.

Both of these people focus on learning their project’s language because they know that without it, they can’t have an understanding of the cultures of these groups. In general, different societies have different languages, cultural practices, and ways of communicating. To understand a new culture, we must first understand their language.

How is language linked with empathy?

Bilingual speakers are better thinkers, they’re more creative, and they’re better at understanding people. All of the superior social skills of bilinguals are components of empathy. Bilingualism improves creativity, which grants people new ways of seeing the world from a  different point of view. Understanding a new point of view has a direct correlation with empathy because it involves understanding other people’s emotions that aren’t your own from a new perspective.

Many colleges, programs, and employers place a high value on people who are bilingual. Particularly, multilingual workers in the healthcare and service industry not only benefit from improved communication but also from heightened levels of understanding—empathy. Even in the virtual world of telemedicine, virtual rehab, and online doctor’s visits, knowing a second language is a distinct advantage.

The Bottom Line

Not only does learning the second language teach you to be more compassionate, but simply being exposed to another language can have the same effect. To understand a speaker’s intention, you must take the speaker’s perspective.

Multilingual exposure enhances perspective-taking. Overall, the brain is a muscle. And the effect of learning another language strengthens the brain—just as running strengthens the heart. The superior social skills of bilinguals prove that learning a second language teaches individuals to be more compassionate, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent.

Career Options to Consider for Active Travelers

Featured image via St. Louis Corporate Housing

Traveling can be one of the most entertaining things to do in life. Not only is this an enjoyable experience, but you will have an opportunity to meet new people, experience new cultures, and grow as an individual. If you’re interested in applying your language skills in the workplace while traveling, then here are some careers to keep in mind.

Cruise Ship jobs

Cruise ships are like small cities floating around the world. You have so many different amenities on a cruise ship. If you would love to travel the world for free in the lap of luxury, then a cruise ship job might be right for you.

There are so many different jobs that you can have on a cruise ship. Whether you want to teach yoga or cook delicious meals daily, there is a place of employment for you on a cruise ship. If you are looking to live on the sea for a great deal of the year while seeing many different countries, this could be the right job for you.

Airline Pilot

A job with travel opportunities built right in is an airline pilot. While you will have to complete a great deal of training, this career can be gratifying. You will be able to see the world as a top-notch airline pilot.

Free travel is just one of the many different amenities of becoming an airline pilot. As an airline pilot, you will have layovers in many exotic places. This will give you the ability to learn about many different cultures during your typical work week. You’ll have continual opportunities to further your language learning by interacting with locals as you travel.

Translator

If you want a lot of different travel opportunities, being a translator can be the career for you. Whether you are translating real-time for politicians or translating for tourists in different countries, these bilingual careers will afford you the opportunity to travel all over the world.

Learning different languages provides you with a range of future benefits. Becoming a translator is a great way for you to see the world and have interesting conversations with people from different cultures.

These are just a few of the many different career options that active travelers can consider. If you want to see the world and make a living, one of these careers just might be the right fit for you.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of language learning? Contact us at the Language Learner’s Journal for more information.

 

Resources and References:

Jobs for People Who Love to Travel

10 Simple Ways to Immediately Improve Your Listening Skills for Language Learning

4 Things to Consider if You Travel for Business

 

The Science behind mindful language learning

An ancient eastern practice, redesigned for western society and backed up by modern day science.

Technological advancements have allowed scientists to measure the impact that mindfulness has on the effect of continued learning within the brain. This technology has shown that even adult brains are not fixed or hardwired but are capable of being re-routed for change.  Learning and practicing new skills such as languages can grow parts of the brain via ‘neuroplasticity. By learning more mindfully and applying daily meditations we can actually alter the physical structure of our brains and become more efficient at processing new information.

Brain Growth

One of the major improvements gained from regular meditation is an increase in white brain matter, this can be described as the brain’s connective channels. Studies have shown that after only 8 weeks of mindfulness practice the white matter sections of the brain had increased in density. Impressively, the growth of this white matter as a result of meditation led to an increased improvement in mood regulation.

If that wasn’t enough, the build-up of white matter also allowed different sections of the brain to communicate more effectively with each other. Therefore If the brain is working more efficiently then this can improve the ability to learn new information.

Increase Emotional Regulation

The ‘amygdala hijack’ refers to the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ reaction that our ancestors and primates developed in response to danger. Our brains react to extreme stress in the same way, leading to irrational moments or furious outbursts. Using MRI scanners, scientists have determined that those who practice mindfulness meditation on a regular basis have smaller amygdalas than those who do not practice. This may tell us something about the reduced stress levels enjoyed by meditators and in particular their relatively increased ability to manage stress in day to day life without feeling overwhelmed by it. Regular meditators also have a more developed hippocampus, this is the part of the brain typically associated with memory and learning.

Improved Brain Health

This neuroplasticity is key to keeping our brains supple, even later on in life. Recent studies have discovered that the brains of older meditators had the same cortical thickness as people who are much younger than them! Meditation also appeared to delay the shrinkage of brain matter that affects people as they grow older. This maintaining of brain mass means that a meditator’s brain often appeared as much as 7 years younger than their actual age. Finally, attention, body and sensory awareness were all at better levels than those who did not practice regular meditation.

In summary, by applying simple mindfulness practices to your daily learning routines you are increasing the cognitive functioning of your brain making you better able to deeply process the new information that you are learning. You will also be more in tune with your own abilities helping to make you a more efficient language learner.

References

What is a more mindful and holistic approach to language learning?

MBSR: 25 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Exercises and Courses

Forbes: 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain

8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction induces brain changes similar to traditional long-term meditation practice – A systematic review