8 benefits of learning a foreign language

language schoolWe explore the benefits of learning a new language in a language school.
Beyond the delight that comes from being able to converse with someone in their native country in a language that is not your mother tongue, there are a range of benefits to speaking two or more languages.

The brains of bilingual people actually work in a different way to the brains of single language speakers. There are several cognitive advantages that these differences offer, many of which are only obvious in people who regularly speak a number of different languages. People who have not spoken a foreign language since school will not be operating at this level, however people who start to learn new languages as adults can become as fluent as young leaners and gain the same mental benefits, too.

Here are some of the advantages (both cognitive and social) of speaking more than one language:

1. You become cleverer

By speaking a foreign language you are challenging your brain’s ability to recognise and negotiate meaning, then to use the information to communicate. This boosts your ability to problem-solve in general. Foreign language students tend to achieve higher scores in maths, reading and vocabulary tests.

2. You get better at multitasking

People who speak multiple languages, children in particular, are adept at switching between two forms of speech, writing and grammatical structure. One study conducted by Pennsylvania State University found that this juggling of languages means that they are less affected by distractions when completing tasks that require a high level of concentration.

3. You delay the possibility of degenerative neurological conditions such as dementia

Several studies that take into account many lifestyle factors have consistently shown that adults who speak two or more languages tend to stave off dementia. The first signs of dementia present themselves at a later stage (75.5 years on average) in those who speak other languages than those who don’t (first affected, on average, at the age of 71.4).

4. You can remember more

The brain is like a muscle and consequently its functions and faculties improve with exercise. It follows then that learning a language where rules and vocabulary must be memorised helps to promote the fitness of the mental ‘muscle.’ Overall memory is improved and in general multiple language speakers are better are remembering lists or sequences. Studies confirm that cognitive activities like remembering shopping lists, directions and names all come more easily to polyglots.

5. Your powers of perception improve

According to a study conducted in Spain, multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They are more skilled at drilling down to relevant information, spotting red herrings and discarding useless facts.

6. Your get better at making decisions

A University of Chicago study revealed that bilingual people have a greater capacity for rational decision making, as they are more resistant to the subtle implications built into any language that can influence judgment. Bilinguals have two languages in which to consider their options and can see whether their initial ideas make sense in their second language before drawing a conclusion.

7. You improve your English

Learning a foreign language means you can’t help but think about grammar, conjugations and sentence structure. Your awareness of language and the ways in which it can be manipulated becomes more acute. Your communication skills develop, you listen more intently, as through learning a new language you are being trained in seeking out meaning in what you hear. People who are studying multiple languages tend to choose words more carefully in their own native language as a result. Over time they become more articulate, their usage of the language expands and their vocabulary becomes more sophisticated.

8. Your thinking becomes more flexible

By having a working knowledge of more than one language, many people find that they become more reflective and considerate of different ways of thinking and interpreting the world around them. As a speaker of two or more languages, you can appreciate countries and cultures in the way they are intended to be understood, removing boundaries and making friendships in the process.

At The Modern Language School, we offer fun, friendly and affordable language classes and a variety of sociable language activities, from cinema sessions to wine tasting. Get in touch to arrange your first lesson and discover what learning a second language can do for you. Additionally please browse around our website which provides information about courses that we provide, click here for more details.