Did you know that there are more bilingual people than monolingual people in the world? Some people become bilingual because they’ve moved to a new country and needed to learn the language to go about their daily lives. Others have become bilingual because they simply wanted to learn another language and enjoy the challenges and rewards that come with it. While it’s true that children may have an easier time acquiring a language, it’s not too late for you, you’ll just have to be more intentional and disciplined with your studies. It’s a great time for you to start learning a new language.
There are so many benefits to learning a language but did you know that making you smarter is one of them?
Here’s how learning a new language makes you smarter and in which ways.
What Being Bilingual Does to the Brain
According to an article by the European Commission, “higher language skills are linked to growth in the hippocampus and areas of the cerebral cortex, where we process memory, thought and action.”
So what does this mean?
This means that you’ll have better memory and be a sharper thinker even in old age.
A study backs up a similar claim being bilingual is beneficial in old age
The study cited in a New York Times article consisted of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals and was led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego. The study concluded that the higher the degree of bilingualism in the individuals, the later the age of onset for dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. According to an article by the British Council, the delay may be as long as 5 years.
Older adults who are bilingual, according to a study, have better maintained white matter in their brains. This is interesting because white matter integrity decreases with age. The study says, “we found higher WM integrity in older people who were lifelong bilinguals than in monolinguals.”
In addition to that, acquiring another language changes the way you think, which tends to be a positive thing.
The European Commission mentioned a really interesting study.
According to a 2012 MRI Swedish study, learning a language seems to improve cortical thickness. The cerebral cortex is responsible for thought, language, consciousness and memory. This is interesting because scientists have linked intelligence to the thickness of your cerebral cortex of the brain.
Being bilingual strengthens your cognitive muscles
According to a New York Times article, being bilingual strengthens your cognitive muscles. The article says that in a bilingual brain, both language systems are active even when the person is using one language. That means that one system has to consistently be obstructing the other one. Therefore, “It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.”
Bilingual people did better than monolingual people in spatial working memory tasks
According to a 2009 study, bilingual people did better than monolingual people in spatial working memory tasks. In addition to that, bilingual people were faster than monolingual people in conditions requiring high monitoring demands. Bilingual people, therefore, have more efficient monitoring systems.
Bilinguals are also better at solving mental puzzles
According to the New York Times article, psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee did a study in 2004 with preschoolers that backed up this claim. In their experiment, they asked both monolingual and bilingual children to sort blue circles and red squares. The shapes were presented on a computer screen and children were supposed to sort them into two digital bins one marked with a blue square and the other marked with a red circle. According to the article, “the children were asked to sort by shape, which was more challenging because it required placing the images in a bin marked with a conflicting color.” The study showed that the children who were bilingual were better at this task.
While you may have missed the opportunity to be bilingual as a child, it is definitely not too late for you.
Starting today you could embark on the journey of being bilingual and reap all the rewards that come with it. We have tried and proven methods of teaching languages. You’ll be able to have conversations with real people and not sound like you learnt Spanish from a textbook. Contact us at TruFluency to start your journey to mastery with us – or click on an instructor and book your first trial class for just $35 today!