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5 mental benefits of learning a new language

“To have another language is to possess a second soul” said once Charlemagne, and he could not be more right. Since centuries, being proficient in more languages has been recognized as a real spiritual enrichment, but the there are many other benefits a second language could bring us.

Nowadays, one of the main reasons people want to study new languages is related to working or travelling purposes, but most of the population is still not aware that learning a foreign language can also have a very positive impact on our mental health.

In the last decades scientists have conducted several studies on the perks a second language can bring to our brain activity, reaching a surprising conclusion.

In the following lines I am going to point out some of the most relevant benefits of speaking two or more different languages. Studies have been carried out both analyzing bilingual men and women, and people who have learned a new language in their adult life.

Here are 5 reasons to start studying a foreign language right away:

  1. It prevents Alzheimer’s disease Research has shown that studying a new language could prevent dementia (and other mental diseases such as Alzheimer) better than any medicine. Language learning is an extremely powerful tool to fight mental aging.

  2. It improves our mental abilities Speaking different languages increases our ability to calculate and read. In fact, children who grow up in a bilingual context have a stronger memory than the ones who are not exposed to different languages [Morale et al., 2013].

  3. It improves listening skills Since the brain has to distinguish different sounds coming from different languages, studies affirm that bilingual people have advanced listening skills. [Krizman et al., 2012]

  4. It improves our multi-tasking skills Scientists claim that men and women who speak more languages are able to move from one task to another much faster than non-bilingual people. Their cognitive functions are more developed and therefore they can easily adapt to different situations.

  5. It gives us a new perspective on the world In the Japanese language, for instance, there are several words to refer to different shades of the same colour; the brain of a person who learns and speaks this language can even come to perceive colours in different ways. Learning a foreign language can literally change the way we look at the world.

As scientists suggest, the secret to a young and flexible mind is keeping it trained and managing to learn a foreign language is for sure one of the best ways to protect our mental health.

Articolo a cura di: Marijana Jovanovic

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