We communicate to share our thoughts with others and to be understood. This can be done through a variety of methods: verbally, in writing, visually, physically… Increasing our competences in these different forms makes us more effective communicators and helps us appreciate better the point of view of other people. Learning another language then, not only adds to our speaking and written skills but broadens our horizons. It provides invaluable education on different cultures as well as advantages beyond knowing another system of communication.
Improved brain power
Understanding a new set of rules and structures can be difficult. To cope with this new knowledge, the brain must expand and form new neural pathways. This is an immediate and well-known benefit of studying a foreign language. You must however, build on the language’s foundational concepts in order to enhance your capabilities. This will allow the brain to form more connections, resulting in an incrementally better skill on the subject matter.
It is in a sense, a good workout for the brain. The constant concentration and exposure to problem solving tasks to make sense of new patterns and recognise word structures is a necessary part of the process. Combined with a decent amount of sleep, this new knowledge is absorbed into memory, making you better at the language of study.
Enhances other abilities
Bilinguals (and beyond) have been found to improve existing abilities in their first language. This is because of the need to revisit the familiar structures of the old in order to make sense of the new. Reviewing grammar rules, sentence construction and vocabulary will strengthen skills in both languages at the same time.
Your perceptive abilities in general also develop. This applies not only to new communication rules but also in becoming more sensitive to finer details and your surroundings. The decision-making process also receives a boost because thinking in a foreign language is suggested to make you subconsciously less emotional about it. You are able to analyse the matter deeper, create hypothetical constructs with less fear of loss before ultimately making a confident decision.
Delayed Alzheimer’s or dementia
Research has shown that the onset of such mental illnesses is delayed for multilinguals. They exhibit the first signs at around 77 years of age. Monolinguals however tend to show Alzheimer’s or dementia earlier, at an average age of 71. The study included other elements in addition to age such as educational attainment, health, gender and financial standing. In spite of these, it was the individual’s number of languages spoken which had the most significant impact on the results.
The critical thinking involved in learning a new language might be the reason why. Switching from one language to another to distill the required information and convert it into the required output strengthens memory. This constant exercise strengthens the brain and improves its functions.
Discover new cultures
This is quite possibly one of the most fun benefits of learning a new language. You are able to learn about a world that is different from yours. This inevitably helps you gain a deeper appreciation of the ways of other cultures. It allows you to become more open-minded about things you are unfamiliar with and could even encourage you to be more adventurous to discover them. Your expanded view of other cultures might also change your stance toward some hardened beliefs, raising your level of understanding and flexibility.
Practicing a foreign language in its native land also helps you gain more self-confidence. It opens up doors to meet new people and experiences. In today’s increasingly competitive world, multilinguals are sought after by employers as well. They require such valued employees to act as a bridge between the company and the clients it seeks to establish stronger bonds with. As a result, you create more relationships and increase your network.
By The Blogs Team
Photos by Yohei Ohashi for elephant Minds