Once upon a time, there used to be debates between linguists and psychologists about the effects of learning more than one language. Is it a useful tool, or does it just confuse people? It’s evident by now that learning a new language can get one ahead in their career. But everything isn’t just about a career, right? It’s also important to look at things from the perspective of personal benefits. So how does knowing more than one language affect you personally?
1. Dealing with distractions: According to a study in the journal Brain and Language, a multilingual person is accustomed to switching between different languages. This exercises the brain in filtering and producing relevant information, and this ultimately reflects in the person’s daily activities by helping them avoid any form of distraction. A study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra supported this result by inferring that multilinguals have sharp observational skills and can focus on important details. According to another study from the Pennsylvania State University, this ability to switch between different languages also applies to tasks, making such people efficient multi-taskers too. So now you know Sherlock Holmes’ little secret!
2. Want to be a memory champ? Learn a new language: If you’ve ever won a trophy for the “Memory Competition” in grade 1, you’re aware of the pride one feels on being able to remember things and show it off to all your forgetful friends. Turns out, there’s a higher chance of you winning a trophy if you speak more than one language. Think of your brain as a muscle- the more you exercise it by memorizing the nitty-gritty of more languages, the stronger it gets. A study from the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology found that bilingual children performed better than monolingual children at tasks associated with the working memory, which is referred to as the temporary memory. This is also applicable to adults. Subsequently, a person well-versed in more than one language has an added advantage against dementia and related diseases. Scientists from Edinburgh University and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad assessed almost 650 dementia patients and found that the onset of dementia among multilinguals tends to occur up to five years later than among the rest.
3. Better test-taking abilities: Research from the University of Edinburgh suggests that multilingual people score better on tests of reading, verbal fluency, and intelligence. Using data from tests on 262 people at the age of 11, the research focused on how their reasoning abilities had changed when they were tested again in their 70s. They concluded that the multilinguals had much better cognitive abilities. And it didn’t matter when these people learned other languages either.
4. Megamind much?: Swedish scientists did an MRI study by making research candidates learn a new language, while a control group was made to learn subjects other than languages. MRI scans showed parts of the brains of the language students developed in size whereas the same in the control group showed no signs of change.
So the next time you can’t find your keys, you find yourself day-dreaming at work, you want to score better on your tests, or you would simply like a bigger brain- know that one way is to get your tongue rolling to the taste of a new language. The union of many languages can introduce you to whole new words and emotions, that otherwise get lost in translation. You can check out the Cross Skills page to know more about the foreign language courses offered and how you can learn them online! Let’s all take one more step towards making the future even better and brighter.