5 ways learning a language can help your brain
Learning a new language is not an easy task. Being equally fluent in more than one language is definitely an art and takes some hard work to master.
There is no age to learn a new language, however, it is relevantly easier for children whose sharp minds are not yet weighed down by worldly matters.
It is often assumed that being multilingual is mostly beneficial for landing jobs and it also makes travelling convenient; but little does anybody know that being able to speak more than one language benefits our brain mechanism in several unique ways, some of which are mentioned below:
It is a lesser known fact that when we learn a new language, areas of our brain related to learning grow larger. A study carried out by Johan Martensson revealed that as a person becomes bilingual, his/her brain alters for the better. The research revealed growth in hippocampus, middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus as well as superior temporal gyrus.
The study also showed that the more time was spent on learning a new language, the bigger the brain got. After this research, it comes as no surprise that bilingual children perform better in tests than monolingual students. Due to their brain size increasing significantly, they also have better logic, rationale and decision making skills than their monolingual peers.
If you are experiencing problems focusing followed by a decline in your productivity, learning a new language may solve your problem.
It has been revealed that learning a new language improves your control over many important functions. Bilingual people are able to tune out distractions, brain fog, and background noises better than their monolingual counterparts. Moreover, bilinguals are able to interpret written text faster than others, skimming through the important parts and overlooking those which are irrelevant for the task/assignment.
Not everyone can multitask effortlessly and efficiently as multitasking is a skill that takes a lot of brain power and concentration. Like all other skills, it can also be learnt but some people just do not have the attention span and brain power to shift between one task to the other smoothly.
However, if you are not an efficient multi-tasker, research has it that you can become one through learning a new language. It is said that being a bilingual sets your brain up for cognitive stimulation or a “brain workout”.
When we are bilingual, we often jump from one language to the other to make connections and better retain what we have learnt. Our brain becomes used to this cognitive stimulation and gets activated quickly in response to switching from one language to the other. Once the brain has become used to this stimulation, jumping from one task to the other becomes easy as well. In fact, some brain areas even aid us in switching from one task to the other.
However, research also indicates that heavy multitasking generally decreases productivity levels by 40%.
Learning a new language also accustoms our brain to learn and retain more information that would be normally possible. As our brains become larger, it becomes easier to learn and retain knowledge too.
A research conducted by Julia Morales revealed that those who were bilingual could work faster and more accurately in every path of life. Bilingual brains work faster as they are used to the “workout”.
Therefore, bilinguals are able to get done with their important assignments quickly by identifying and retrieving useful information accurately. Moreover, bilingual brains are stronger as they are used for storing and retrieving more information.
As we grow older, our brain cells are likely to degenerate causing cognitive impairments. Some decline in brain cells is natural with age, but a progressive degeneration of brain causing language, cognitive and memory issues is known as dementia.
Due to the cognitive stimulation and expansion of the brain when a new language is learnt, bilinguals face a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. A study conducted by Brian Gold revealed that older bilinguals had brains like a young person would have. Younger brains work faster, harder and more efficiently, virtues that fade with increasing age. However, being a bilingual gives our brain the extra power that keeps brain impairments at bay.
The cherry on top is that bilinguals face a lower risk of dementia regardless of their education, gender, occupation, and nationality. Research has revealed that learning more languages increases neural pathways in our brains. Hence, information can be processed through more channels. Thus, the natural brain cell degeneration that occurs due to aging is counteracted by more brain cells and neural pathways being created through learning a new language.
There are some more activities other than learning a new language that have a similar positive effect on our brains. One such brain-boosting activity is music which is a powerful form of human emotion and expression. Hence, it is safe to say that whatever creative activity we indulge in helps give our brains a strenuous workout along with improving and expanding it.
With all these benefits of being bilingual, we hope that we have gotten you contemplating about making your child learn a second language as soon as they are old enough.
Kamil Riaz Kara is a Writer with a Masters in Administrative Sciences. He frequently blogs on, technology, lifestyle, and health.
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