Today’s post was written by Tom, who’s just spent a year working at EuroTalk as part of his university degree course. He’s been doing some research on some of the less obvious – but just as important – benefits of learning a language.
Most people would agree that knowing more than one language in today’s increasingly connected and global world is a good thing. However, new reasearch suggests that it can make you smarter in other, less obvious ways.
Knowing more than one language seems to improve the brain’s executive functions, which include: planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, task switching and the initiation of tasks. That all seems very positive to me!
This means that bilingualism can improve your brain in a multitude of brilliant ways. The evidence for this concensus is not limited either; there are plenty of studies that suggest studying another language can make you smarter.
One study shows us that students of a foreign language score better in standardised tests – particularly in maths, reading and vocabulary.
Another by the psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee shows us that bilingual children are better at solving certain mental puzzles. And research by psychologists at Penn State suggests that you build better multitasking skills.
These benefits can extend well into your later years. Neuropsychologists from the University of California, San Diego have discovered bilingual people are more resistant than others to the onset of dementia. This resistance is also related to the degree of bilingualism. Those with a better understanding of their second language are more likely to stave off the effects of the disease, so, we should all start learning today.
Many scientists are starting to compare the brain to a muscle in that it gets stronger with exercise. Learning a new language is certainly a workout and can improve your life in multiple ways. It can open your eyes to many more opportunities and experiences and the journey towards fluency can be incredibly rewarding.
If you can’t decide what new language you want to start learning, take a look at our list of 132 languages; you can start learning with us instantly.