Do you speak another language besides English? Have you always wanted to learn? If you have, there is endless research proving that knowing more than one language keeps your brain healthy, active and powerful. The more we know of other languages and cultures, the more we’re able to cross borders mentally, as well as physically.
A recent article in the New York Times: Why Bilinguals Are Smarter by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee brings up some great points. I’ve highlighted the top five benefits below:
1. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improve cognitive skills not related to language and even shield against dementia in old age.
2. Studies suggest the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.
3. Bilingualism’s effects also extend into the twilight years. In a recent study of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals, scientists led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism — measured through a comparative evaluation of proficiency in each language — were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.
4. In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks, scientists found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.
5. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.
What’s the best way you have learned a language? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org