When we think about foreign language acquisition, the most commonly cited benefit is the often most obvious -- the ability to communicate with other cultures in either a social or professional capacity.
The second benefit which is often cited is the ability to understand, appreciate, and think more deeply about our native language such as the structure of sentences and the selection and accuracy of words used.
For instance, what are the differences between rock, gravel, pebbles and stones?
Or the differences between a cathedral, church, shrine and temple?
How about a stream, river and creek?
Beyond all of these benefits, however, is the concept of the Foreign Language Effect. This is related to the degree to which thinking in a foreign language impacts (positively or negatively) our emotional involvement and cognitive biases.
For instance, when we learn a language natively, we most often do so through daily living and life, in a highly charged and emotional environment. As would be expected, acquiring a language in such a manner results in the words and verbs being heavily laden with emotion and psychological triggers.
By contrast, second language acquisition (unless you were raised in a bilingual culture or household) is traditionally done in a far more clinical, emotionally neutral or sterile environment and as such the words and nouns are far more devoid of emotion and psychological triggers.
Even if you don't speak a foreign language or only speak a foreign language at a basic level, you can easily test this by thinking about various emotional issues and changing the nouns, adjectives or verbs used.
Pro-life vs Pro-abortion? Or Pro-life vs Pro-choice as just one example of an often extremely emotional issue with emotionally laden words.
We often seen this in military parlance as well, where concepts such as "dead civilians" or "dead children" has a far great impact than than using the term "collateral damage".
Fratricide among our military (that is, accidental killing of one's troops by one's troops) is reframed as "friendly fire" - and yet there is probably nothing friendly about one's troops planting one or several 1,000 lb gravity bombs in your mess hall tent, even if the troops are from your same country.
The science is quiet solid on this subject, and using it properly, it helps us understand that by changing the way we speak (nouns, pronouns, adjectives and verbs) we can greatly improve the clarity of our decision making by removing ourselves emotionally from the decision, thus, creating emotional distance.
And in other situations, this helps us influence or persuade others by either triggering their emotions to our advantage or side stepping them and avoiding certain emotional or psychological tripwires.
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