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Health Benefits of Learning a New Language

Learning a foreign language takes time and dedication; it may sometimes seem overwhelming, but there are benefits that come with perseverance beyond the obvious ability to communicate. Here are five health benefits of learning a new language to help you stay motivated.

Improved Memory

A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology found that bilingual children performed much better than monolingual children on tasks using their working memory.[1]

Better Cognitive Abilities

Research from the University of Edinburgh suggests that specifically, bilingual people score better on tests of reading, verbal fluency and intelligence.[2]

Delayed Onset of Dementia

Scientistshave found that people who can speak more than one language tend to develop dementia up to five years later than monolingual people.[3]

Improve Listening Skills

Being bilingual can improve your listening abilities because your brain has to work harder to distinguish the different types of sounds in two or more languages.

Faster Stroke Recovery

Research has shown a link between bilingualism and the recovery of cognitive capacity following a stroke.The reasoning behind these findings is a phenomenon known as cognitive reserve, by which brains that have built up strong neural networks are better equipped to bounce back when damage has occurred.[4]

 

References:

1. Julia Morales, Alejandra Calvo, Ellen Bialystok. Working memory development in monolingual and bilingual children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 2013; 114 (2): 187 DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.09.002

2. Thomas H. Bak MD,  Jack J. Nissan PhD,  Michael M. Allerhand PhD,  Ian J. Deary MD. Does bilingualism influence cognitive aging? Annals of Neurology. 02 June 2014. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.24158

3. Hilary D. Duncan, Jim Nikelski, Randi Pilon, Jason Steffener, Howard Chertkow, Natalie A. Phillips. Structural brain differences between monolingual and multilingual patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease: Evidence for cognitive reserve. Neuropsychologia, 2018; 109: 270 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.12.036

4. SuvarnaAlladi et al. Impact of Bilingualism on Cognitive Outcome After Stroke. Stroke. 2015;47:258–261. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.010418