One of the programs which Caritas Smiles runs is teaching English to the communities which we service. This gives people wanting to teach English, or simply become teachers, the opportunity to exercise their skills. Further, it allows them to earn college credits and additional material to add to their CV. However, there are also many benefits for our Dominican and Honduran communities in learning English as a second language.
- It helps them become smarter. Learning a second language improves brain functionality as you have to learn to negotiate meaning. You also need to recognize words, and understand how to communicate in different language systems. This helps develop your ability to problem-solve in non-language related skills such as math and science.
- It improves memory. The brain works like any other muscle, and learning new subjects or skills is the way to exercise it. This means that by learning multiple languages. which involves new vocabulary and grammar rules, you get better at memorizing things!
- Your decision-making skills improve. Because languages are not carbon copies of each-other, you need to learn to make decisions that transfer the nuances of one language to another. These split-second decisions help you built confidence in yourself and your own decision-making skills. This helps you improve these skills in other areas.
- You help fight off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Studies have found that the median age for a multi-lingual person to develop these diseases is 75.5 versus the 71.4 median age of monolingual speakers.
- You improve your native language. When learning another language, you need to pay attention to the grammar, syntax, vocabulary of the language you’re learning. You also have to learn to understand the nuances of language. This you leads to focus on your own language as you learn how to communicate meaning from one language to another. It also makes you pay more attention to the way language is structured. In turn, you become a better communicator in both your new language, and your native one.
- English widens your horizons. English is one of the most spoken languages in the world, with over 370 million native speakers and 600 million non-native speakers. This makes English one of the most influential languages in the world. Thus, it’s a language that’ll open academic and job opportunities to those who speak it. This helps people get empowered as they have more opportunities to become independent individuals who can speak for themselves.
- It improves your ability to multi-task. Efficiently switching to one language to another means that you’re switching between different types of language structures. Juggling two languages is a distracting and demanding work which develops your ability to also juggle two or more tasks with minimal error.
As you can see, learning a new language is beneficial for everyone! Moreover, learning a new language for the at-need communities we work with in the Dominican Republic and Honduras will not only open new opportunities to communicate with other people and find new jobs and academic opportunities: learning English will also strengthen the cognitive capabilities we use in the day-to-day. Thus, by helping people learn English we open new doors for them and work on their future mental health while they become more empowered.
If you’re interested in volunteering or doing service learning by teaching English to at-need communities, then please join us! Our Take A Trip Change A Life program has many different opportunities for you to engage in helping others, and we’re always looking for volunteers that can help better the lives of those who need it the most.
Talia Velez is a Growth Impact Officer at Caritas Smile, a non-profit service travel program dedicated to making positive impacts and sustainable changes for women and children in developing countries. Having grown up in Mexico, Talia is keenly aware of the day-to-day issues faced by women and children in countries with more economic vulnerability. Visit our site to learn more about Caritas Smile and join us in our mission to help those in need.