There are hundreds of reasons to learn a second language. A friend of mine took up Spanish because the Spanish club at university offered free shots of tequila. Two years later, she moved to Valencia, fell in love and the rest is history. But shots of tequila and romance aside, it turns out that getting to grips with a foreign language (or ESL) does great things to your brain. According to research, it improves your memory, makes you a faster problem solver, and can significantly delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. You know the part of a movie where the heroes train hard (think Rocky and G.I. Jane)? If your brain were the hero, learning a second language is the sweat and music.
So here are ten reasons to start learning English - Navy Seal.
1. It improves your memory Recent brain-based research has shown that people who are fluent in more than one language have better memories and are more cognitively creative and mentally agile than monolinguals.
2. It keeps your brain healthy for longer Canadian studies suggest that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are diagnosed later for bilinguals than for monolinguals, so ESL speakers stay cognitively healthy later in life.
3. It makes you better at multi-tasking According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, people who have developed the ability to think in different languages and move from one to the other become much better multi-taskers.
4. It enhances decision-making Multilingual students become more confident in making decisions which is down to exposure to the nuances and regional expressions of their second language. According to a study from the University of Chicago, decision-making becomes easier for multilingual people. This is good news for IELTS and Cambridge preparation students!
5. It doesn’t matter when you start Millions of people learn a second language later in life: in school, university, or work, or through migration or marriage. Researchers at Edinburgh University found out that knowing another language is beneficial, irrespective of when you learn it.
Watch the video here 6. There are big brain changes in just 3 months A Swedish study has shown that deep-lying parts of the brain involved in learning new material and spatial navigation grew after just three months of intensive language study. This was different from a group of students who were studying intensively, but not languages.
7. It improves the way you speak your native tongue Getting to grips with the nuts and bolts of a second language makes your own language more interesting. Bilingual people start to their native language structures in a new light.
8. It is an excuse to travel Academics from the University of Illinois found out that language learners immersed in the second language can learn faster and more effectively than those who learn through grammar explanations. They even discovered that six months after a full immersion program, learners still performed well on tests, even though they had not practiced the language in the mean time. Full immersion produces brain processes more like the natives!
9. Languages are the portals into different words: hold on to your hats! There may be distinctions made in a new language which do not exist in your native tongue. Researchers at Newcastle University, found that bilingual speakers are able to visually distinguish among different stimuli (such as colours), if those images are represented by distinct words in their second language.
10. Connect with new people Let’s face it, discovering a different country and speaking with new people is truly thrilling. Communicating in real situations is fun and increases your confidence, serving to stimulate your mind even further! It makes us feel alive!