There are lots of exercises and hacks with which you can improve your cognitive abilities. But what if they came with the perks of improving your career and making your travels more enjoyable?
Learning a new language is just such an exercise. In our increasingly globalized world, knowledge of an additional language other than your native tongue is an especially valuable skill. Plus,the challenge of learning a new thing gives your brain a good workout, thereby improving its overall functionality. Here’s how learning a foreign language impacts your brain.
- Improves memory – People who learn and speak a second language have been observed to have a sharper short-term memory. Learning a foreign language requires memorizing a whole lot of new stuff as well as accessing 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 of time, which benefits not only your language-learning but every area of your life.
- Sharpens cognitive abilities – People who learn and speak two or more languages perform significantly better on standardized vocabulary, reading, and math tests than monolingual people, according to a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh on 262 people of various ages from 2008 to 2010. Reading and general intelligence were found to be most strongly improved by learning a new language at any stage of your life.
- Helps to 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 are great exercises for your brain, and thus keeps you active for longer and thereby makes you more immune to memory and cognition-related diseases like Dementia.
- Improves attention and focus – A multilingual person has a lot more to choose from when it comes to using verbal or written language, so their brain gets better at processing information in general. Comprehending and responding to someone in a foreign language takes focus, and so does switching between languages in daily usage. This training improves your overall ability to filter out distractions and focus.
- Smarter decision-making skills – Learning a new language may help you become a better decision-maker, because your brain becomes better at filtering irrelevant stimuli and focusing on relevant information. This is why multilingual people are found to be more immune to propaganda, marketing hype, and exaggerated information. This ability helps you to make smarter decisions in life.
- Better listening and understanding skills – When you learn a language other than your native tongue, your brain has to work extra hard to comprehend it properly. This sharpens your auditory information processing skills. As a result, you become better at listening and comprehending things even in your own language, which leads to greater understanding of situations and people.
- Improves your native-language skills – You learn your native language intuitively, generally from your home environment, but when learning a second language you have to pay attention to its syntax and grammatical structure. This makes you more aware of linguistic differences and rules in general, which positively impacts your skills in your native tongue as well. People who study a different language have been found to be better speakers and writers in their native tongues.
Learning a new language is challenging, sure. But guess who loves a new challenge every other day? Your brain! Challenging your brain regularly is the best way to keep it fit and healthy. No harm in gaining some career advantage in doing so either, we say!