When you decide to learn a foreign language, it’s often for its practicality. Maybe because you want to travel, settle abroad, get a new job, etc. But learning a foreign language is also very beneficial for your health! Discover 5 health benefits of learning a foreign language.
It is often said that to improve your memory, you have to work your brain regularly. Reading, doing sudoku, learning a new language: making your brain work is always beneficial! And when you learn a foreign language, you have to remember grammar rules, verb conjugations and vocabulary. Your brain will be put to work, that's for sure.
Who hasn't dreamed of multitasking? Some people think it's something that's innate, especially for people who can stay focused. But having the ability to move quickly from one task to the next is something that can be learned! Especially for multilingual people. Indeed, switching from one language to another would cause our brain to juggle several activities.
Can you really change your brain by learning a language? Scientists at the University of Lund (Sweden) conducted a study to determine whether the brains of multilingual people change during learning. They did this by giving two groups of students an MRI scan before one group learned a new language. After 13 months, both groups had MRI scans again, and the researchers found that the students who studied a new language grew certain areas of their brains: the hippocampus (related to language learning), a region of the time lobe (spatial orientation), and certain areas of the cerebral cortex related to language ability.
Did you know that, on average, the first signs of dementia appear at about 71.4 years of age in a monolingual adult? But for adults who speak two or more languages, the signs do not appear until around 75.5 years of age on average. Learning a new language helps to develop neurons and grey matter, which in the long term helps to sharpen the mind.
A not insignificant bonus: learning a foreign language would be good for morale! It's hard to believe it when you forget vocabulary or make mistakes in conjugation... And yet, when you study a language, one of the most active areas is the "striatum ventral", the centre of the reward. The ventral striatum (located under the cortex) is linked to motivation, especially when it brings rewards. Learning a language and noticing that you are making progress trigger a pleasure reaction in the ventral striatum. This is why it’s so important to reward yourself as you learn.
If you were still looking for a good reason to learn a new language, here are five! Of course, the health benefits of foreign languages are hardly noticeable to the naked eye. But when you feel that your brain is working faster, you can thank irregular verbs, grammar rules or even the technique of spaced repetition.