Learning a new language alters the very structure of your brain – here is how!
Language is one of the great gifts humans possess. It allows us to cooperate and communicate in ways that no other animals on Earth have managed to do.
There are thousands of human languages in the world and many humans speak quite a few of them.
Then you get monolingual people, who only know one language. Although you can get by without knowing many languages, speaking more than one language is not only rewarding but can change the very structure of your brain.
The process of learning a new language has many neurological benefits and forms an essential part of brain fitness over the course of your life. In this article, I’ll go over some of the key benefits your brain will experience if you choose to learn a new language.
1. Smarter Than the Average Bear
A lot of people are under the impression that intelligence is a fairly constant thing. You’re either born an Einstein or just average, but the truth is that intelligence changes over the course of your life.
You can become smarter by learning to think more efficiently and practicing how to solve problems. At the same time poor health and aging can have a negative effect on your IQ.
A study by Dr. TH Bak and his team revealed that learning a second language can slow down the cognitive decline that we usually see with aging.
2. Culturally Sensitive
Language is more than just a way to ask where the bathroom is. It’s the filter through which people understand their world. If you only speak one language it’s difficult to really grasp how worldviews can shift thanks to the language you think and live through.
One study showed that people who speak at least a second language are better at understanding other people’s point of view.
3. Memory Like a Steel Trap
Everyone can benefit from having a better memory. Whether you’re trying to ace that exam or just remember your shopping, having a good memory makes life easier. Studies have shown that if you learn a second language earlier in life you’ll end up with a better working memory.
Learning a language later in life isn’t quite so effective, but the overall cognitive benefits of second language learning help with memory too! So get yourself and your children bitten by the language bug.
4. Decisions, Decisions
When we make decisions they can be well-considered critical decisions or quickly made snap decisions. In a lot of cases, we take the easy way out and make quick but poor choices.
One psychological study seems to show that mastering a foreign language has a positive effect on your decision-making ability. So making the decision to study one just became a little easier, no?
5. Growing Pains
For all the neural benefits, the main reason you should consider adding another language to your collection is that it’s fun! Learning a new language and engaging with the books, films, and people of an entirely different culture is one of the most fulfilling things that you can do.
Some people even make language learning a lifelong goal, ending up with multiple languages. If you’re really dedicated, you could end up like Alex Rawlings who is fluent in 11 languages!
OK, maybe just start with the first one, before we get too far ahead of ourselves.