If you want to speed up your brain, the answer is simple: learn a new language. There are many exercises to help you improve your cognitive abilities. But what if they came with the perks of improving your career and making travel more enjoyable?
In our globalized world, knowing more than one language is a valuable skill. Even better, the challenge of learning something new gives your brain a good workout, improving its overall functionality. Here’s how learning a foreign language affects your brain.
Language Improves Memory
People who learn and speak a second language have a sharper short-term memory. Learning a foreign language requires memorizing a lot of new information. You also have to access that memory while you use the language. This strengthens your short-term or working memory, i.e. where you store and process information over a short period. Overall, this benefits not only your ability to learn a language, but every area of your life.
Learning Sharpens Cognitive Abilities
A study out of the University of Edinburgh found that participants who spoke two or more languages performed better on standardized vocabulary, reading, and math tests than monolingual people. They tested 262 people of various ages between 2008 and 2010. The two areas most improved by learning a new language were reading and general intelligence. And the best part is you can enjoy this improvement at any stage of life.
Can Help Slow Down Dementia
The same study found that knowing two or more languages can help delay the onset of dementia by almost five years more than monolingual people. Learning and speaking multiple languages exercises your brain, which keeps your brain active longer. This makes you more immune to memory and cognition-related diseases like dementia.
Learning a New Language Improves Attention and Focus
A multilingual person has a lot more to choose from for using verbal or written language, so their brain gets better at processing information. Comprehending and responding to someone in a foreign language takes focus, and so does switching between languages for daily usage. This training improves your overall ability to filter out distractions and focus one task at a time.
Better Decision-Making Skills
Learning a new language can help you become a better decision-maker. Your brain becomes better at filtering irrelevant stimuli and focusing on relevant information. Studies show multilingual people are more immune to propaganda, marketing hype, and exaggerated information because of this skill. Being bilingual helps you to make smarter decisions in life.
Learn to Listen Better and Understand More
When you learn a language other than your native tongue, your brain has to work extra hard to comprehend it. This sharpens your auditory information processing skills. As a result, you become better at listening and comprehending—even in your own language. This leads to greater understanding of situations and people.
A Second Language Improves Your Native-Language
You learn your native language intuitively from your home environment. But when you learn a second language, you have to pay attention to its syntax and grammatical structure. This makes you more aware of linguistic differences and rules, which then improves the skills in your native tongue, as well. People who study an unfamiliar language are generally better speakers and writers in their native tongues.
Learning a new language is challenging. But your brain loves being challenged. Exercising your brain regularly is the best way to keep it fit and healthy. And when you learn a new language, you can improve your career trajectory, enjoy travel on a deeper level, and expand your communication skills at the same time.
If you want to know how to learn anything faster—including languages, watch this video: