Studies have shown that speaking two or more languages does wonders for the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people function differently than monolingual speakers in ways that offer multiple cognitive benefits. Individuals who start to study a second language as adults can still obtain the same level of fluency as a young child while reaping the same brain benefits as well. Here are five mental advantages of learning a second language:
Your IQ Rises
Speaking a foreign tongue boosts brain functionality as it is challenged to negotiate meaning, communicate, and recognize different language systems. You will be better able to negotiate meaning in related problem-solving questions as well. Young people who study a second foreign language consistently get better marks on standardized tests than monolingual students. That happens particularly in the subjects of reading, vocabulary, and math.
You Become a Better Multitasker
Bilinguals, particularly children, are good at switching between different writing and speech systems. A Pennsylvania State University study found that this ability makes them able multitaskers in that they find it easy to switch between different systems of thought. Study scientists found that multilingual people made to pay attention to distracting tasks while using a driving simulator made fewer mistakes in their driving than monolinguals.
You Ward Off Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Multiple studies have probed this topic and their conclusions are universally consistent. For adults who only speak one language, the mean age wherein dementia starts being noticeable is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for the onset of dementia is 75.5. The studies took into account factors like income level, physical health, gender, and education level, but the results between all the studies were about the same.
Your Memory Gets Better
To many people who are in Education, the brain functions like a muscle – exercise makes it work better. Learning a new tongue means constantly remembering vocabulary and grammar rules, which works out that mind “muscle.” All the exercise involved in learning a new language improves brain memory, people who speak more than one language are good at remembering sequences or lists. Studies conclude that bilinguals are better than monolinguals in remembering directions, shopping lists, and names.
You Make Better Decisions
A University of Chicago study found that bilinguals are better rational decision-makers. Because the vocabulary of all languages is nuanced and carries subtle meanings, these biases can have an effect on how you make a decision. Bilinguals are used to thinking over their options in the second language and seeing whether their rational process for choosing one choice over another still stands.
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by Denise Recalde
Denise Recalde is a Senior Content Writer at Day Translations, one of the world’s premiere translation, interpretation and localization providers. A constant seeker of new challenges — both professional and personal — Denise has traveled to over 14 countries in the world and has successfully undertaken many a writing project in industries ranging from beauty and fashion to health to education to business in her 11-year career.