Language Learning and Your Personality

Birds flying at sunset, evoking the idea of broadening your horizon

The term 'to broaden your horizon' means to increase the range of things that you know about, have experienced, or are able to do.

You'll know that Travel broadens horizons. So too does learning a new language, but with a twist, for learning a new language does not just open up the world to you; it opens you up to the world.

To help show you what I mean, check out this 8-minute video which features linguist Luca Lampariello.

Okay, maybe you didn't watch it all (extra points if you did!) so let me cut to the important part for our purposes:

At 0.49 Luca, an Italian native, says this: "I wouldn't say the person has a different personality when they speak another language but something definitely changes here. You're always the same person but ... it's like a piano, you know, you're just pushing certain spots. Speaking a certain language probably sparkles something in you that is not sparkling when you speak another language. Let me give you an example. When I speak English I feel confident, I feel free."

Ah! So what happens is that existing aspects of your personality are activated when you speak a different language. In other words, these aspects are already a part of you; you are simply discovering them, perhaps for the first time in your life. Isn't that great!

These are riches money can never buy, and they are yours to claim!!

My own personal experience backs up what Luca says. When I switch from my native English into Spanish, it's not just the language which is changing. I switch into Spanish mode. Spanish mode is much more than the language per se; it's also the gestures, the turns of phrase, the directness, and - dare I say it - the occasional swearing! I most certainly do not speak Spanish in the same style in which I speak English. I change significantly. Oh, and I enjoy that change. It's much like acting.

Allow me to back up these musings with results from a study quoted in an article by noted bilingual expert Francois Grosjean Ph.D. He says:

Hispanic American bilingual women students [were asked] to interpret target advertisements picturing women, first in one language and, six months later, in the other. They found that in the Spanish sessions, the bilinguals perceived women in the ads as more self-sufficient as well as extrovert. In the English sessions, however, they expressed more traditional, other-dependent and family-oriented views of the women.

And the point is? Let's take the word 'extrovert' as used above. Admittedly this is a study carried out on bilinguals but I know that I perceive Spanish speakers on this planet to be more extrovert than English speakers and I'll wager that you do too.

Am I right?

If you want to be more extrovert, try learning Spanish (-; (-;

Until next time readers,


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