Often, I wonder if I’m at a severe disadvantage living in a country where the language being spoken is not my own. My German is quite good – well, passable. I love the culture, as well as the language, and I’m eager to learn and understand more.
Nevertheless, there’s still this niggling thing in the back of my mind that says, ‘You’re not a native speaker and you’re most likely losing your questionable English skills.‘ Oh, the horror.
Then I found this thing on Wired.com, and it somehow makes me weirdly optimistic. Most of us need a bit more optimism, so here it is:
Thinking in a Foreign Language Makes Decisions More Rational
This has nothing to do with other areas of life, but when it comes to decision making, navigating in a foreign tongue might be advantageous. Here’s how Boaz Keysar and his team at the University of Chicago put it:
‘It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic. We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases…’
How do you like that? I wonder if the less you know a language, the more unbiased your decisions are. So, my Portuguese is nonexistent. I should only make decisions in Portuguese.
Am certain the majority of you are going to appreciate the complete and utter wonder of my resolve.
Eu fiz a minha decisão
This is interesting. I’ve read somewhere (in a New Scientist article, I think) that bilingual children have to struggle to learn to speak both languages. But instead of becoming a hindrance, they grow up with a higher than average ability to handle conflicting information. Simply put, they become masters in handling contradictions in real life.
So, yes. Enjoy your ex-pat status. The more your brain have to struggle to make sense of things, the cleverer you get!
By the way; if you’re interested in learning additional languages (But avoid Portuguese, so you can keep it pure for your decision making!), here’s an interesting approach: http://lifehac.kr/Jj7zXr
I saw this article a couple of days ago and almost sent it to you, then got distracted, no doubt by something shiny. I’m glad you found it.
And you’re not losing your English skills. Your English skills are top-notch. You write enough in English you’re in no danger of that, I’d think.