Growing up in the USA, I never realized the importance of learning a second language at a young age. In high school, I took Spanish as a requirement for the Scholastic Diploma they offered, instead of a Standard Diploma. Little did I know that those two years of basics would not do me much good in the real world.
I began taking French in my mid-twenties because I aspired to move to Europe. After two years of studying, I did eventually make the move, but not to France. Then I began to learn German. During that experience, I can validate the idea that in order to learn a language fluently, it is best to assimilate into the country completely.
However, now I am beginning Portuguese. I find that it is easier than German, but since I have a background in Spanish, it is a bit difficult to pronounce some words correctly.
I find the roots of languages interesting. When I visited Italy for the first time in 2016, I discovered some similarities to Spanish and French. For example, ‘Cómo estás?’ is not too far from ‘Come Stai?’, and Por Favor is almost exactly the same as Por Favore.
I love learning new languages and making small, but profound, breakthroughs when I am able to speak them more comfortably.
I am always impressed when I meet someone who is Bilingual or a Polyglot. In Europe, it is common that people know more than one language, and I find myself extremely attracted to a man of many tongues.
When I talk to my friends with children, they discuss how important it is for their kids to be bilingual. The competition to get into Bilingual Schools (even as young as infants) is unbelievable! It has of course been proven that children are capable of learning a second language fluently up until the age of seven. (http://developpement-langagier.fpfcb.bc.ca/en/optimal-age-learning-second-language)
Learning another language is even said to delay the onset of dementia (https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24537-learn-another-language-to-delay-three-dementias/).
It seems quite clear that learning a second language, fluently, is beneficial and is becoming the new norm.