How Learning a New Language is Healthy for the Brain

Updated: 23. Nov, 2022

People often learn new languages for the many benefits such knowledge attracts. For example, being bilingual offers you several more travel opportunities and career opportunities. In addition, new languages can also bring new people into your life. These new relationships will also come with great experiences and other advantages. 

However, there are several other benefits to learning a new language. For example, learning languages can give you profound insight into life. Language learning is also healthy for the brain.

A new language can improve your brain in different ways. Sadly, many people consider the mental effort that learning a language requires and avoid the process. They don’t know that shying away from this process robs your brain of many benefits. 

So, in this article, you’ll learn the different ways learning languages help your brain. Let’s go!

6 Ways Learning a New Language Can Improve Your Brain

International business isn’t the only valid reason for learning new languages. Instead, investing your time and resources to learn a new language can help your brain in different ways. So, we explain six health benefits of language learning to the brain.

Improved Cognition 

Learning creates new neural pathways in the brain. Therefore, when you stop learning, your existing neural connections weaken while you no longer create new pathways. Consequently, you’ll start battling forgetfulness, weak memories and other issues. 

Of course, this issue is more likely to arise in older adults. This is because they have passed school age and may not have jobs that force them to learn new things. But learning a new language can fix this problem.

Learning a foreign language will help you to develop new neural connections and pathways. Essentially, the learning process exercises the brain and gets it working optimally again. You’ll thus experience better cognition, enhanced memory retention and the benefits such improvements add to your self-esteem. 

Improved Attention and Concentration

Attention and focus are becoming scarce. More and more people are finding it hard to dedicate their time and attention to important activities. Furthermore, different reasons have been proffered for this drop in attention, such as increased social media use. 

But while the debate rages, lack of attention is destroying many lives. Fortunately, you can improve your attention span and focus by learning a new language. A study has shown that bilingual adults performed better in attention tests than their monolingual counterparts. 

The rationale for this impact is pretty clear too. Language learning is a challenging endeavor. It’ll be harder if you’ve never learnt a foreign language before. 

Therefore, you require significant focus and concentration to learn another language to the point of fluency. You’ll have to pay attention to several hours of lessons and speaking practice activities. So, once you imbibe this habit while learning a language, you can apply it to other aspects of your life. 

Boost Creativity 

Are your creative juices running dry? Or do they no longer flow as and when due? Then, it would be best if you considered learning a new language. Bilingualism and multilingualism make language students more creative in their life approaches. 

For example, this creativity will show up in problem-solving exercises. This includes real-life scenarios and activity tests. You’ll also be more flexible in your approach to different issues, especially decision-making. 

Several studies suggest this link between language learning and creativity. So, it’s not just a fantasy belief. The creative steps you have to implement while learning new languages definitely contribute to this continuous impact of learning languages on your creativity.

Develop a Retentive Memory 

Do you struggle to retain information? You swear you stayed up all night memorizing stuff, but you can’t remember them all the next day? Then, that’s one more reason to learn a new language.

Firstly, learning foreign languages requires memorizing new things. This includes new words, phrases, grammar rules, punctuation principles, etc. You must memorize these elements before practicing the language you’re learning. 

So, if you can pull this off, it’s an automatic boost for your memory. There’s scientific backing to this claim too. Another study has shown that bilinguals often fare better than monolinguals on memory tests. What’s more? Learning languages can boost memories for even older adults. 

Effective Multitasking 

Multitasking is an essential life skill. It involves the ability to handle different tasks simultaneously. Sadly, only a few people can effectively multitask – juggle various tasks and still perform optimally. If you aren’t in this limited class, you should consider learning a new language. 

Learning foreign languages makes you flexible. It’s this flexibility that makes it possible to handle and adequately execute different tasks together. Therefore, it’s easier to switch between responsibilities easily.

You already have to juggle different languages after learning foreign languages. For example, you can switch from your first language to your second or third language. You need this skill when translating from one language to another. 

That ability to move smoothly from one language to another makes multitasking easy for bilinguals. So, research from Penn State University (PSU) states that this juggling ability helps bilinguals multitask better than monolinguals. 

Better Decision-Making 

Finally, learning new languages is healthy for the brain as it improves your decision-making process. Researchers from the University of Chicago have found out that thinking through problems in a non-native tongue increases your chances of making rational decisions. In addition, a foreign language raises your chances of taking favorable risks. 

Furthermore, weighing options in foreign languages allows you to think deliberately. So, there’s less focus on your intuition, which is often influenced by your emotions. Your mind rather focuses on the potential benefits of all your options. 

Therefore, this process helps reduce the effect of loss aversion on your decision-making. People are more likely to make financial decisions that make financial loss possible without allowing the possibility of failure to discourage them. Thus, learning a new language can improve your finances through careful decision-making. 

Language Learning and Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is an illness that attacks the brain, memory, and other mental functions. It’s a neurologic disease that shrinks the brain (atrophy) and kills brain cells. It affects the brain areas that control thought, language and memory. Therefore, this illness can seriously inhibit your daily functions. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease is increasing, especially in elderly adults. For instance, about 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease

It was also projected that this figure would reach 14 million by 2060. This projection isn’t unwarranted because, by 2022, Americans living with Alzheimer’s increased to 6.5 million. Sadly, these figures mainly involve people 65 years and older. So, exploiting any means that combats Alzheimer’s disease is vital. 

Learning a New Language Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Bilingual or multilingual individuals may postpone the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because of the effects of the language-learning process on the brain. Essentially, you can halt the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by up to five years by learning a foreign language. 

Essentially, learning new languages helps your cognitive reserve. This is your brain’s resistance to neuropathological brain damage. Languages mentally stimulate your brain. Therefore, you will not immediately experience reduced cognitive abilities as you age. 

Elements of language learning that delay Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Attention and focus
  • Switching between languages and grammar rules, and 
  • Training of executive functions 

All these elements improve a person’s cognitive reserve. So, your brain can withstand the damage of Alzheimer’s symptoms longer than someone who performs no stimulating activities. Learning new languages allows you to adapt to constant changes and process information effectively, even in old age, thus delaying Alzheimer’s. 

Starting Your Language Learning Journey

Now, you know that learning a new language is healthy for the brain. So, it’s time to take the bold step and start learning a foreign language. These tips can help you on your journey. 

Choose the Language You’ll Learn 

Selecting the language you want to learn kick-starts the language-learning process. Several foreign languages make for an exciting learning experience. But choosing one depends on your reason for learning the language. For example, if it’s work, it depends on your work location. If it’s education, it depends on your new school. But if you’re learning languages to boost your brain, you can choose any interesting and challenging language. 

Select a Language-Learning Method

There are several ways to learn a new language. You can use books, attend classes, watch tutorial sessions online or have a personal tutor. Furthermore, language learning apps are available. And their advantage is that apps combine almost all other forms of language learning. In addition, they allow you to learn on the go. 

Commit to the Process

Finally, you can only learn languages with commitment. You must commit to dedicating hours, days, and weeks until you become fluent. You won’t get the required results if you’re not this dedicated. So, make this decision before you start learning any language.

Conclusion 

Now you know what the brain gets when you learn a new language. This is an extra reason to learn a new language. So, you don’t need to wait until you get a foreign job or other opportunities. Instead, you can learn a language to improve your brain. With language learning tools like language apps, you wouldn’t even have to spend much money to learn a language and boost your brain. 

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