Learning a new language allows us to connect with people in other cultures, but it also enhances the thinking processes and overall health of the brain. Anyone who has learned a new language knows that it helps your concentration and focus, improves your study skills, builds self-discipline, and enables you to better understand even your own native language. Here is a look at some research on the benefits of learning a new language.
Dan Roitman in an article on the Huffington Post states: “As a language learner, you’ll not only become a more conscious thinker and listener who can communicate clearly and think creatively, but you’ll also gain the most significant benefit of multilingualism: a broader, more global perspective.” In a separate post on the same site he says, “Because the language centers in the brain are so flexible, learning a second language can develop new areas of your mind and strengthen your brain’s natural ability to focus, entertain multiple possibilities, and process information.”
Dr. Thomas Bak at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences tested 853 participants in 1947, all of whom were 11 years of age, and retested them in 2008 and 2010 when they were in their early 70s. He concluded that bilinguals think in separate ways while juggling two languages at once, and this ability leads to better task and conflict management. Not only do bilinguals concentrate better, they are able to ignore extraneous stimuli more effectively than those who speak only one language. Moreover, he observed that dementia developed later in life for those who knew two languages. His research also showed that learning a new language in adulthood yields the same cognitive benefits, thus there is no reason to feel that you are too old to benefit in many ways from learning a new language.
Christopher Wanjek of Live Science states that, “Researchers found that young adults proficient in two languages performed better on attention tests and had better concentration than those who spoke only one language, irrespective of whether they had learned that second language during infancy, childhood or their teen years.”
Researchers in Sweden conducted a study on two groups of scholars: one that studied languages, and another that studied non-linguistic subjects. MRI scans showed that the participants who studied languages increased the size of their brain, while the size of the brain in the other group remained the same. Growth occurred in the area of the brain where language skills develop, primarily in the hippocampus and the areas of the cerebral cortex.
There are many other research studies that have been done over the years that highlight the mental, physical, and social benefits of learning a new language. Would you like to enhance your life too?