Boost Your Creativity by Learning a Second Language
Creativity coach Ann Debontridder provides top tips on the creative life.
Posted April 14, 2021 | Reviewed by Matt Huston
Sometimes doing something completely different from creating helps spark a creative project or motivates us to create. Simple tasks like doing the dishes or folding the laundry can quiet us in such a way that excellent creative ideas percolate right up. More complicated activities, like learning another language, can be of similar benefit. In today’s post, creativity coach Ann Debontridder explores this theme.
When you enjoy learning foreign languages, the path towards fluency is a powerful way to boost your creativity for several reasons.
1. Learning another language can act as the jolt we need to get out of any rut and regain the vitality and aliveness necessary to work on our next project.
To create it is important to feel fully alive, not cut off from ourselves or from the joy of life. Creative people often travel in their own countries or abroad to re-energize. Sometimes they even live as expats for a while to access the vitality and the extra boost that foreign places bring and that creative zest their projects need. However, we are not always free to travel. In this case, learning a new language can be the next best thing to supply all the advantages that travel brings. A new language can act as a portal to those new and exciting uncharted worlds we love to visit.
2. Learning a new language stirs and reawakens our natural-born curiosity and gives us the flexibility we need to be creative.
As young children, we are naturally curious. We love to ask “why” and process answers that stir other questions to get to the bottom of the mysteries we perceive. Often as adults this impulse to ask questions is no longer very active. As we grow older, the stories we tell ourselves become the truths we live by. Ideas slowly crystalize and we lose the curiosity and flexibility we had as children.
When learning a new language, we are thrust back into the role of beginners and the novelty can help to reawaken this much-needed sense of wonder. Learning how to formulate questions with words and structures we are not used to can open up a new type of freedom, an invigorating gateway to stretch out of our fixed questions and answers. In this sense, a new language is a natural path to fresh ways of seeing and thinking. It can even take us to vast landscapes of emotions and meaning that we may not have explored before.
3. Learning a new language strengthens the self-sustaining motivation muscles needed to successfully complete our creative projects.
To see creative projects through to the end, it is best to keep our creativity engaged regularly or even daily, if we can. This sounds easy, but it is not. We may like to forget that we are not born accomplished, that it takes hard work and making messes to be able to upgrade skill levels in any endeavor. We often dream of the flowers in our creative garden before we have tended the soil. Creativity requires patience, perseverance, and resilience. A journey through the arduous landscape of acquiring another language can be exactly what we need to help strengthen those skills needed to fully enjoy the fruits of our creativity.
The next time that you feel somewhat in a rut creatively, you might think of signing up for a foreign language course and take the jump into a brave new world to hone your creativity skills.