5 Interesting Facts About How Learning a New Language Positively Affects Your Brain

Is it better to know several languages, but badly, or one, but perfect?

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Today, everyone learns English because it’s the world language (cheers for those whose native language is English). With English, you’ll be able to find common ground with people all over the world. Isn’t that reason enough to learn a second language? But there is more to it than that.

What about those whose native language is English? Why do you need to know a second language? I want to assure you that if you don’t already know a second language, you need to go and learn it as soon as possible. Let’s see if I’m right, shall we?

1. Learning languages makes your brain grow in size

If you learn foreign languages, your brain grows, literally. Its particular areas — the hippocampus and some parts of the cerebral cortex — are growing.

Scientists noted an increase in gray matter volume in those participants.

Researchers published the results of a brain study of professional interpreters. Scientists noted an increase in gray matter volume in those participants. It’s true with those who had engaged in in-depth language study for at least three months. The more effort you put into the study, the more noticeable the increase in gray matter volume will be.

2. Foreign languages prevent Alzheimer’s syndrome

Many people have heard of Alzheimer’s. And for those who haven’t heard, I recommend watching a delightful movie on the subject, Head Full of Honey. This tragic comedy will not leave anyone indifferent. But try to find an original 2014 German film with the same title in your native language.

Alzheimer’s is a disease in which a person forgets absolutely everything. As the disease progresses, people start to forget an increasing number of things. In the later stages, the patient forgets why some adult man wants something from him and calls the patient “father.”

I hope I didn’t scare you. Unfortunately, some people have Alzheimer’s disease, but it doesn’t have to affect everyone. But why not take preventative measures against the disease?

Bilinguals develop dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease five years later.

The remarkable result came from a team of researchers. They compared the disease course to 102 people who have mastered foreign languages and 109 people who know only one language.

The scientists concluded that the first signs of the syndrome appeared on average 4.3 years later. The state of dementia to which its development led was 5.1 years later than in the second category.

3. Bilingualism can improve your ability to concentrate

The thing is that bilinguals have stronger attention. They better catch the nature of an important phenomenon and its details. For example, they can feel the essence of the interaction between people in the new community they have only entered.

There is a talk that people who learn several languages have less knowledge of their native one. It turns out that this is partly true. Their native language vocabulary is narrower on average than those who speak only one language. At least, this applies to those people who have learned a foreign language in a multicultural environment.

4. Knowing more than one language improves your multitasking abilities

Those who speak several languages can switch between tasks faster. Also, they easier solve several different problems in their mind in parallel.

It’s easier for bilingual children to adapt to unexpected changes in circumstances.

The study’s authors, who established this fact, experimented. Scientists offered bilinguals and children who speak one language a series of tests. The results showed that bilinguals cope better with the simultaneous performance of several tasks. Also, it was easier for them to switch from one type of task to a completely different, new one.

Interestingly, bilinguals with age better retain the ability to solve complex problems simultaneously. However, learning languages as early as possible is desirable to achieve such skills.

5. Knowing several languages improves your memory

People who know more than one language have a better memory. Researchers have found that this also usually means that they are better at mental arithmetic.

Bilingual children are also better at remembering the sequence of all objects and events. For example, it allows them to orient themselves much more confidently in unfamiliar surroundings. They can keep a list of things to do in their heads more firmly. The difference is evident at the 24th month of life and lasts a lifetime.

The Final Thoughts

Today you discovered the benefits of learning a second language. The benefits of learning a second language can be felt at an early age and well into your old age.

You may find the benefits of learning a language obviously, or for you, it is still a lack of motivation. In any case, everyone must decide whether to learn a second language or not.

I hope you enjoyed reading this

Andy D

If you’d like to support me as a writer, consider signing up to become a Medium member. It’s just $5 a month, and you get unlimited access to Medium.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store