When you first decide to learn a new language, it may be for practical reasons, i.e. needing to speak the language when travelling abroad, or for recreational reasons with an interest in the language, culture and country. However, here at eSense Translations, we would like to share some additional benefits you could gain by spending time working on this new skill.
Lowers the risk of dementia
In the report released in the Lancet last week, it was suggested that people who continue to learn throughout adult life are more likely to develop brain reserves and thus reduce the risk factors for developing dementia. Further studies have shown that bilinguals are found to have stronger brain connections that allow them to cope with the damage associated with dementia. And if you are multilingual, speaking more than two languages, the benefits increase further, as this was found to have a small, but significant protective effect from Alzheimer’s.
Many researchers speculate that being bilingual or multilingual can lead to an improved memory. The logic makes sense; the brain is like any other muscle, in that the more it is used, the stronger and more capable it becomes. This theory is further supported by the above evidence that learning a new language can reduce the risk factors for developing dementia. However, studies completed have not been able to provide strong supporting evidence. Although some have shown a positive effect on memory, others have shown no difference when compared to monolingual subjects studied. Despite this inconclusive evidence, the researchers still report positively, stating that even if there is no benefit to our memory, learning a second language is not detrimental to any other brain processes, i.e. it does not distract from our other cognitive functions and will therefore not impact negatively on other tasks.
Improved decision making skills
Researchers from the University of Chicago found that when people make decisions in a second language, their responses are less emotionally-charged and thus they are able to rely more on their analytical skills to make sound, long-term choices. They go further to suggest these improved decision-making skills could enable bilingual speaker to make better financial choices.
The skill a bilingual will have developed for switching between different languages can be transferred to other processing tasks also, meaning they are better at multi-tasking in other areas of their life.
Improved English/native language skills
Learning a new language makes you a lot more aware of grammar, sentence structure and word choice. Students of more than one language gain a greater understanding of how languages are put together and this understanding can then be applied to the native language, making their writing and editing skills a lot sharper and more creative. Furthermore, a bilingual speaker develops greater skills in listening to the more subtle, distinguishing sounds in language, which is again transferrable to their native language.
Learning a new language may be a necessity or it may be for simple reasons of enjoyment, but as these bonuses above show, it is worthwhile time spent for both your mental and psychological wellbeing and potentially for your financial health too!
By Lorna Paice