Learning languages is a great way to get new opportunities by meeting new people, traveling abroad, and even advancing your career. But besides the obvious personal and professional benefits, learning a language can also have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. Hence, here’s how learning a foreign language every day can change your brain.
#1 Your Brain Becomes Bigger in Size
Education of any kind can help you develop your brain. When it comes to language learning, it can actually increase your brain size over time – more specifically, your cerebral cortex and hippocampus can enlarge. These two parts of your brain are responsible for learning and memorizing information, so they play an important role in a student’s success.
A study carried out by Swedish researchers found that learning a second language can help keep your brain’s mental processing functions strong and healthy. Their study analyzed the brains of a group of Swedish soldiers who were put into an intensive language learning course. After a three-month period, their brain scans showed that the language learning and memory-processing areas of their brains had grown.
#2 Your Memory Becomes Better
As explained above, the part of your brain responsible for your memorizing abilities grows in size when you are learning a foreign language. Thus, enrolling in and following a language learning course could help you improve your memory over time. This is also true for people who have been bilingual or multilingual from a young age:
- Bilingual children are better at recalling short-term tasks than monolingual children.
- The more advanced a child’s language skills are in both languages, the better their memory.
- The positive effects on memorizing abilities in bilingual children don’t depend on their socio-economic background. The only aspect that matters is their proficiency in both languages.
#3 Your Brain’s Grey Matter Becomes Denser
The grey matter in your brain is the part of it that is packed with nerve cells and fibers that process information. The more grey matter a person has, the healthier their brain is perceived to be. Moreover, when your grey matter is dense, information can be processed and can travel faster in your brain.
A study of bilingual people’s brains found that they have denser grey matter in the left hemispheres of their brains. This part of the brain is responsible for language and information processing. In addition to changing grey matter, language learning can also change your white matter which is responsible for neuron connections in your brain. Essentially, you will be improving these connections which will now allow for information to travel faster and your brain to function at a higher level.
#4 Your Concentration Abilities Improve
One thing many students struggle with is being able to concentrate. Moreover, it can be difficult to keep your attention on a single task (e.g. writing an essay) for hours. The good news is that learning a foreign language can help you improve your concentration abilities which will allow you to focus better and keep your attention on something longer.
Bilingual and multilingual individuals have to constantly switch between different languages to communicate appropriately in different spaces. As your grey matter becomes denser and the size of your hippocampus increases, you improve your executive functions. These refer to your ability to focus your attention on something as well as plan or anticipate events. In addition to being able to focus better, you will also improve at ignoring distractions.
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#5 You Decrease the Risk of Developing Neurological Conditions
If you are worried about your mental health in the long run, studying a foreign language can be quite beneficial to you because it decreases the risk of developing neurological conditions. It appears that speaking at least two languages can help you delay the onset of different age-related neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. This is likely due to everything explained earlier (e.g. denser grey matter, developed white matter).
Researchers are also looking at the effects of language learning on older people aged 65 and over. A study found that there is an improvement in cognitive function, but there needs to be more research done about the topic. Nevertheless, it’s certain that learning a foreign language is beneficial to individuals of any age or background.
#6 You Become More Open-Minded as a Person
Speaking more generally, by learning a foreign language, you will also be learning the culture of the people speaking that language. Culture and language are directly related to one another which is why it is so important to study one while learning the other. And as you learn more about a different culture, you will get a different perspective on the way our world functions. This, in turn, can help you become a more open-minded person.
For example, you might have to write an assignment on Korean culture while learning the Korean language. This is a great opportunity to put your knowledge to use. If you need assistance throughout the process, you can hire an experienced writer from the writing services reviews site TopWritingReviews. It’s easy to find a writer who is an expert in Korean culture who will help you make the most of your assignment and get a good grade.
How Can You Learn a Foreign Language Efficiently?
Now that you know about all the benefits of learning a language, why not start doing it if you aren’t doing it already? Here are some tips to help you learn a foreign language efficiently:
- Be Motivated: First and foremost, you need to be motivated. If you don’t know why you are learning a specific language, you should ask yourself about it and determine your language learning goals to help you stay motivated.
- Don’t Do It Alone: Another good idea is to find a partner instead of learning the language alone. With someone motivated as you are, it will be easier to stay on track, practice together, and discover new things about the culture related to the language.
- Use What You Learn: You’ve probably heard of the phrase “practice makes perfect” – and it’s completely true. If you want to learn a language, you should actually be using what you learn and practicing as much as you can. You can do this with your partner or even on your own. Just talk to yourself!
- Make It Fun for Yourself: If you try to force yourself to learn a language you have no interest in, you will likely have a hard time. But even if you are motivated to study, it can be difficult to memorize words or understand how grammar works. That’s why it’s important to make it fun for yourself by playing games, learning jokes, etc.
- Challenge Yourself: While you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, you still need to get out of your comfort zone. When reading a book in the language you are learning, choose one that is a level higher than your current level of proficiency. When you have learned basic words for a topic, move on to advanced words.
- Listen to Others: Just like speaking, listening is an important skill you need to develop while learning a language. That’s why you need to spend a lot of time listening to native speakers while also listening to experts who can give you tips on learning the language effectively.
- Immerse in It: By far the best way to learn a language is by immersing yourself in it. If you live in an area where everyone speaks that language, you will be surrounded by it and it will be easier to get fluent. But if you don’t, you can still talk to native speakers online and consume media in that language to help you learn it.
To summarize, learning a language definitely has a wide variety of positive effects on your brain. As a student learning a foreign language, you might find it difficult to progress, but taking one step at a time every day will help you stay on track and succeed in the long run.