1. Understand the mechanism of a different culture: A tactical and psychological advantage
Learning a language is also to understand the way it operates: the mentality of the country and its people. The structure of the language, interpretations and expressions used reveal much about the thinking of the people using it. Faced with an opponent from a different culture, the psychological factor is of great importance. Some even use tactics to destabilise the opposing team: The All Blacks, New Zealand rugby players, perform their traditional Haka before the game starts to demonstrate their strength.
2. Develop location intelligence to improve responsiveness
When oral communication is not effective enough our brain analyses the context and environment to understand other elements. The mind will try to decipher the body language of the speaker, to interpret their emotions, tone of voice and the situation in which it is located. This ability to understand and interpret a given situation is very important in sports; to anticipate, understand the logic of the game, the intentions of ones opponent, and react quickly. Leaning a foreign language can in this way help improve your responsiveness, as you become more aware of other ways of expressing things.
3. Be independent and resourceful
Major sports events such as the Olympics will rarely be staged in your home country. You will travel abroad and be surrounded by athletes from all over the world, and being able to cope in these unfamiliar surroundings is very important your performance as a top athlete. Unless you want to feel out of place, insecure and constantly rely on an interpreter, that is. It is also an opportunity to meet new people, sometimes fans, and to interact with them.
4. Communicate and control your public image
Athletes become world famous through winning tournaments and Olympic events, and are invited to do interviews, participate in official ceremonies and meet public and political figures. Being able to understand a question from a foreign journalist and respond in your own words is certainly a great advantage. In this era of social networks it is a strength for an athlete to take control of their own communications: an opportunity to find your own voice independent of your manager or press agent. The bonus is understanding and responding to what your fans write about you.
So for the top athletes of the world: Don’t overlook the power of languages – they will help immensely in your daily life. This advice applies to fans as well. Foreign languages allows you to read the interview with your favourite performer in the international press, to go see a game live abroad without being bothered by the language barrier, and to meet other foreign fans. But being yourself in another language and experiencing a different culture is not just the preserve of top athletes or their supporters. This is exactly what you experience on a stay with OISE in England, USA, Germany or Spain (although with fewer journalists)