The Benefits of Being Bilingual

Ok, so I’m British, and for me it is all about good manners, I was coming to live in a Spanish speaking country, so the least I could do was to learn the language! “How hard could it be?” I asked myself!
Well, when my family and I started this adventure back in 2012, we took Spanish lessons every time we visited Panama, because right from the start, it was apparent that English was not widely spoken and if we were to live here, we really needed to be able to communicate! Of course, as soon as we returned to the UK, all our newly learned Spanish was quickly forgotten!

Last year my Husband and I even started night school…You guessed it…Usually by the time we got home, we had forgotten what we had learned!

When we actually moved here in February this year, we immediately started taking lessons twice a week…and still we struggled…because we were living in an Ex Pat Community where almost all conversations were in English!

What we realised was that we had to practice, at every opportunity, we had to talk in Spanish as much as possible…We are now fluent in ordering from a menu in a restaurant!

Joking aside, as we always knew, if we learnt Spanish, our lives here would be not just easier, but enriched…To be able to communicate and converse in Panama, with some of the happiest people in the world, is usually great fun and heart-warming.

On a more serious note…there are numerous benefits to being Bilingual…Cognitive benefits, working those brain muscles, exercising and sharpening the mind…Intellectual growth, enhancing and enriching mental development…Benefits to mental health, past research has suggested it may help ward off dementia…Improved communication skills, particularly listening and understanding which leads to greater empathy…Employment benefits, for all ages, if you plan to work in a foreign country it is a must…and the list goes on!

Since moving here, I am amazed how much I now know and how my Spanish has improved.  I am a long way from being fluent, but I can get by and I am learning all the time.  One of the great things about working for Try Panama is that most of the team are fluent in English, Spanish or French amongst other languages…so hopefully my Spanish will start to improve at a faster rate! 

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