What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)

What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)

What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)

In modern society, knowing a second language is becoming more and more important. Second language proficiency makes you more marketable for employment opportunities. It can make traveling in foreign countries much easier. It allows you to communicate more effectively with a broader range of people. It’s no secret that in our increasingly globalizing world, knowing a second language gives you an edge and opens up a world of opportunities for you.

Blog50_LanguageLearningBrainTips_pic2-300x200 What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)Many people have a false perception that you can only effectively master a foreign language when you’re a child. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is true that learning a second language when you’re young has its benefits, especially since the brain is malleable. However, people are (or at least they should be) constantly learning new skills—whether it be coding, cooking, painting, or piano playing—all throughout their lives, and when they put in the effort, they are able to master these skills successfully. Why, then, should learning a foreign language be any different?

It is natural to be intimidated when starting the process of learning a new language (or any new skill, for that matter). However, the language learning process has benefits far beyond the practical and beyond our interactions with other people. As it turns out, learning a new language works wonders for our brain, making our lives better in more ways than one. If you’re looking for the motivation to take on your foreign language learning goals, keep reading.

The Benefits of Language Learning

 

  • Blog50_LanguageLearningBrainTips_decisionmaking-300x200 What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)Better Decision Making: Studies have found that people who know a second language are more sensitive to subtleties and nuances in any given situation compared to people who only know one language. This enhanced sensitivity to complexity allows for more rational decision making, while people who only know one language are more likely to make decisions based purely on emotion. As a result of this better decision making, polyglots tend to be better spenders than monolinguals.

 

  • Better Memory: The process of learning new grammatical rules and memorizing vocabulary improves your working memory, which deals with the storage and processing of information over a short period of time.

 

  • Increased Attention Span: Foreign language learning builds your focus because you become skilled at switching between languages and knowing which language to use when. This helps the brain filter information and focus. People who know more than one language are better able to block out noise and distractions and to concentrate on the task at hand, be it studying, reading, writing, or working.

 

  • Blog50_LanguageLearningBrainTips_multitask-300x200 What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)Better Multitasking Ability: In addition to being better able to focus on any one task, being bilingual also improves your ability to multitask. In fact, because bilingual folks have better concentration and are better able to fend off distractions, they also have the ability to shift that concentration to another task, just as they are able to switch between languages.

 

  • Increased Size of Parts of the Brain: What happens when you workout regularly? You build muscle, right? Your muscles actually get bigger. It turns out that it is possible for parts of your brain to increase in size, and this is exactly what happens when you learn a foreign language. In particular, people who know another language have a bigger hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for memory.

 

  • More Connections between Different Parts of the Brain: Grey matter connects different sections of the brain. When learning a second language, grey matter volume increases. The number of neural connections between different parts of the brain increases as a result of learning another language. This actually makes you smarter. Did you know that Einstein had an unusually high volume of grey matter?

 

  • Blog50_LanguageLearningBrainTips_demensia-300x200 What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)Prevents/Delays Dementia: All other factors being equal, the average age of dementia onset for monolinguals is 71.4 years, while for multilinguals, it’s 75.5 years. While language learning may not completely block dementia onset in people who are already at risk, it can delay onset by up to five years. This is a more effective form of prevention than any prescription drug currently on the market. What’s more is that the prevention and/or delay of dementia doesn’t depend on being fluent in another language—just the process of learning a new language is enough.

Hopefully, by now, you’re inspired to start learning another language! So, how can you do so?

Here are some top tips for learning a new language: 

 

  1. Buy a textbook. Language textbooks will introduce you to the basics of a foreign language, from the grammar to the vocabulary. They also contain exercises that allow you to practice your new skills.
  2. Try some language learning apps. Popular apps include Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Memrise, busuu, and Babbel. These programs turn language learning into a game and make the process fun.
  3. Travel. Spend as much time as you can in a country where the language you want to learn is spoken. Immerse yourself completely in that language 24/7.

  4. Read books, watch movies, and listen to music. This is a great way to start immersing yourself without leaving home. Even if you don’t understand everything or the characters are speaking too fast, keep at it. Don’t let a lack of understanding discourage you. Remember, when you were a baby, you learned your first language simply by being exposed to it. You didn’t understand every single word that was being said to you, but did that stop you? Probably not.

  5. Sign up for Konversai. Konversai is a site that will connect you with someone who speaks the language you want to learn and you two will host sessions via live video and jump into language learning right away, and go at your pace! It’s like having a personal tutor available at your fingertips anytime. Screen-Shot-2017-12-29-at-11.02.07-AM-207x300 What Learning a Language Does to Your Brain (and Tips for Mastering a New Language)This platform is the world’s newest global marketplace for any and all human knowledge on any subject imaginable. If you want to learn a new language, go on Konversai and find someone (or multiple people) who speak that language and can teach it to you. And if you know another language, you can teach it to others on Konversai and make money doing so. Konversai works by connecting knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any topic of interest through one-on-one live video conversations. While knowledge providers can make money sharing their knowledge, skills, and experiences wherever and whenever suits them, knowledge seekers can enjoy a personalized, one-on-one session on exactly what they’re looking to learn from an actual human being. This personalization can’t be found in a textbook, in a large class, or just any language learning app. It is this one-on-one interaction that leads to better retention of knowledge and skills.

Konversai is not limited to language learning. Any and all knowledge, skills, and experiences—be it cooking, dancing, singing, traveling, coding, relationship advice, public speaking, sports, or something else entirely—have a place on Konversai. By joining Konversai, you’re becoming part of a movement to democratize knowledge, put the human connection back into technology, and make the world better by enabling meaningful, authentic conversations that improve people’s lives. You don’t want to miss out. Get started today!

Written by: Pavita Singh

Sources:

  1. Alban, Deane. The Brain Benefits of Learning a Second Language. Be Brain Fit.
  2. Delistraty, Cody C. (2014). For a Better Brain, Learn Another Language. The Atlantic.
  3. I Will Teach You A Language. 9 Surprising Health Benefits Of Learning A Foreign Language.
  4. Merritt, Anne. (2013). Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism. The Telegraph.
  5. Sebastian. (2017). The Surprising Brain Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language. Mondly.

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