If you thought accents were sexy, imagine how absolutely mind-blowing it would be to have the person of your dreams tell you those three magic words in more than one tongue.
There's just something about people expressing their thoughts in multiple languages that is so appealing.
It might be that they're more in tune with their own thoughts and emotions.
Or, perhaps they're just better communicators in general.
A growing body of research indicates that people who learn to speak more than one language throughout their lives have essentially trained their brains to be stronger muscles, making them smarter, more creative and more responsive to their own feelings and emotions.
But, after studying both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese for a few years each, I think there is something deeper to speaking more than one language than meets the eye or brain. It's something in the heart, in the soul.
When we can more easily connect with others in their native language, we are able to experience this world using so many different perspectives.
It not only makes us better world citizens, but it makes us better lovers, as well.
More on that later.
First, let's see why being bilingual is like bodybuilding for the brain:
People who speak more than one language have stronger, faster brains.
The New York Times reports on multiple studies performed on participants of all ages -- from infants to those in their twilight years -- which find speaking more than one language in life truly strengthens the brain.
A study published by the National Academy of Sciences researched cognitive gains in 7-month-old infants introduced to more than one language from birth, compared to children being raised in a mono-language home.
The researchers used audio in order to train the infants to anticipate changes in visuals taking place in front of them.
Infants were given an audio cue before seeing a visually stimulating award, in this case a puppet popping up on one side of their screen.
They repeated this action so the babies would anticipate the reward after hearing the audio cues.
To test how well the babies anticipated their "reward," the researchers displayed the puppet on the opposite side of the screen after the audio was played.
Researchers found that the infants who were exposed to more than one language from birth more quickly adapted to the switched screens.
Another study, led by neuropsychologists at the University of California, was conducted on 44 elderly bilingual people. It suggested that using more than one language slowed the onset of many illnesses, like Alzheimer's and dementia.
NPR even reports that dementia patients who are bilingual experience onset on average four-and-a-half years later in life.
Perhaps learning more than one language, as well as using those multiple tongues throughout your life, is just like working out any other muscle in the body.
The more you train it, the easier it is to flex and use on a daily basis -- even in your golden years.
If you can think in two languages, you can think outside of the box.
While it is abundantly clear through research that being bilingual means having a stronger and sharper brain, you may not assume that learning more than one language would make you more creative, too.
However, Psychology Today reports people who are bilingual can fluidly respond to challenging tasks and come up with more creative problem-solving techniques than those who only use one language.
The researchers note that bilinguals are more proficient in the formations of things like syntax, figurative language and metaphors, which allow their brains to think more creatively and respond to obstacles in more innovative ways.
Medical Daily reports on a study that observed 120 9-year-old students to see if being bilingual had an effect in creative thinking and problem-solving.
Dr. Fraser Lauchlan, the lead author of the study, said in a press release,
Our study has found that it can have demonstrable benefits, not only in language but in arithmetic, problem solving and enabling children to think creatively. We also assessed the children's vocabulary, not so much for their knowledge of words as their understanding of them. Again, there was a marked difference in the level of detail and richness in description from the bilingual pupils.
By learning multiple languages from an early age, children are more equipped to understand various ideas and concepts rather than a single, streamlined thought process.
It's as if being bilingual allows us to tap into the more creative aspects of our brains that are normally left unused.
Although I grew up in a primarily English-speaking household, my father was from Argentina and placed a strong emphasis on learning various languages.
Those studies have certainly allowed me to not only learn more about different cultures and various communities but also learn more about myself and all the creative ways I can express who I am.
Speaking more than one language helps you understand the human heart.
By understanding the effects being bilingual has on the brain, we can begin to see the enormous benefits speaking more than one language has on the human soul.
Not only does it better connect us to the world and people around us, but multiple languages help us connect to ourselves.
Susan Ervin-Tripp, from the University of California Psychology department, has been studying the effects of learning multiple languages on the human experience for years.
She compiled her research in a paper titled Emotion in Bilingualism, where she writes,
When we are in situations demanding a change in language, we may have a strong sense of a shift in values and feelings. Some bilinguals even report they have two personalities.
And she's right.
Although, coming from someone who always feels like he has multiple personalities, I believe people who are bilingual are actually sensing new emotional perspectives on life when reporting multiple personalities.
Language in its various forms can be used as a tool to help us understand our core morals, beliefs and even passions.
Language unlocks the door to the heart by allowing us to easily communicate with each other and ourselves.
By being able to understand who we are better, we ultimately become better lovers.
Speaking multiple languages helps us understand simple thoughts about love, life and happiness in all of their complex variations, and it helps us relay those feelings to our loved ones.
And anyone who is bilingual already understands the importance of language.
We know how crucial it is in any relationship to repeat those three words to our beaus every night as we lay our heads down together and every morning as the sun rises: I love you, te amo, 我爱你.
Citations: Why Bilinguals Are Smarter (NY Times), Cognitive gains in 7-month-old bilingual infants (PNAS), Being Bilingual Sparks Creativity (Psychology Today), Bilingual Kids Better at Creative Thinking (Medical Daily), Bilingualism In Emotion (University of California, Berkely)