How Learning New Languages Is Good For Mental Health!
The heading of this post says it all!! Moreover, it is heartening to note that most of us Indians are bilingual. Yes, most of us know are mother tongue as well as a foreign language ‘English’. Calling it a foreign language may seem a bit weird because, today it is a part and parcel of our lives and I am writing the post in the so called ‘foreign’ language.
Research reveals that learning a language subtly can change and most probably improve the way we think. Learning languages makes us smarter and this has a scientific backing.
The language spoken by us represents the world in a way. For example, English teaches us that pink is different from red and grey is not the same as black, on the other hand, blue is just one colour however dark or light it may be. Now, take Italian, it has two colours corresponding to the blue in English: the light blue is ‘celeste’ and dark blue is ‘blu’. So when someone who knows English starts learning Italian, he or she has to think about colours differently to use the right word.
Researchers have spent so many years in investigating the benefits of knowing 2 languages. Learning another language improves the knowledge of our own mother tongue and at the same time it has positive effects on the brain. Young children who learn 2 languages tend to develop theory of mind earlier and in older people, knowing two languages can delay the onset of dementia.
The researchers took a step further to find out if knowing 2 languages could actually be a kind of mind-training and they found that being bilingual actually changed the way how people see the world. Isn’t that just great?
- Cognitive skills and overall brain function improves when you are bilingual
People speaking two or more languages have better cognitive abilities than those who speak just one.
- Brain size increases and connectivity improves when you learn a new language
When you learn a new language, the brain’s language centre and the hippocampus increase in size. Hippocampus is that area of the brain which is responsible for forming, retrieving and storing memories.
Learning a new language can also help in increasing the number of neural pathways between different parts of the brain. MRI scans reveal that there is better connectivity between different brain regions.
- Your brain is protected against aging when you know more than one language
Do you know that when you know a second language, you delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s by about 4.5 years? This is far better than Alzheimer’s drugs that can only delay symptoms by six to twelve months.
Noticeable difference in brain activity has been found in brain scans of bilingual seniors. Their brains work more like those of young adults.
Young brains and bilingualism
Let us talk about young minds. i.e. children. Certain studies say that kids who learn 2 languages simultaneously can have delays but these delays are just temporary. Children catch up by the time they touch 3 years of age. Multilingual children experience brain benefits early. Kids studying a foreign language get a boost in overall cognitive development, are more creative, fare better in standardized tests and have a better self-esteem and perform better in school.
Never too late
It is never too late to learn. You can learn a new language at any given point in your life be it childhood or adulthood.
So, do try learning more languages!
Hope this post has been informative!
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