We know that learning is healthy for the brain; it has been said to improve cognitive function and possibly stave off neurological disorders. There is more to the brain, however, than mere function. The mind works in ways that we do not fully understand, and learning a language will broaden your mind.
Understanding another language is to understand something about another culture.
Languages do more than allow you to communicate with someone from another country. They reveal things about the language’s culture. Phrases and their meanings develop over time and reveal things about history. Nuances expose elements of culture, communication, and how relationships develop. Suddenly, you understand more than just the words of a language—you comprehend things about the people who speak it.
Once you understand what someone else is saying, you can really listen.
Things often get lost in translation. Basic communication may be possible, but only when you learn the other language can you not only speak, you can listen. Suddenly, another person is able to express far more with you. Things you never realized about that person become clear. This leads to true communication and possibly better relationships.
Your world is made bigger.
Now that you understand another language, more of the world is open to you. You no longer have to rely on finding a translation. You can learn from another culture’s educational system, its arts and literature, and its people. In many cases, knowing a language doesn’t limit you to one other culture; there are several cultures in which the language is spoken, and because you’ve learned it, you now have access to even more of the world. Your world is a larger, your life potentially a little better, and your mind broader.