Besides the personal satisfaction of learning a new tongue, becoming fluent in a language could boost your lifetime earnings. The Economist takes a look at the return on investment of studying a foreign language, and which languages are the most valuable to learn in monetary terms.
Photo by Minnesota Historical Society
Assuming an average starting salary of almost $45,000, a 2 per cent "language bonus" average over 40 years, and also a not-very-generous 1 per cent raise annually, you'd have an extra $67,000 by the time you retire. Since you can learn learn a new language pretty quickly , that's a good investment of time. The figures are US-centric; you might do better in Australia given the relative rarity of fluent second language speakers.
Of course, this all assumes you'll use your foreign language skills in your work or you're hired because you can speak in different tongues. Even if that isn't the case, you'll reap the less tangible (but still worthy) benefits of language learning. [Thanks Dan!]
Johnson: What is a foreign language worth? [Economist]