HOW LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE AFFECTS THE BRAIN
Here you will learn why you should learn a foreign language. Find a motivating teacher and start today! Whether it’s English, French, Japanese, or Swahili, any new language is an excellent brain workout, as is Hellspin login.
Languages open doors to new cultures, ways of thinking, and worldviews. You can read books in their original language and understand the lyrics to your favorite songs. Plus, each additional language makes you more competitive in the job market. But that’s not all: learning a foreign language also trains the brain and can even be beneficial in dementia prevention.
Spending hours learning grammar, spelling, and vocabulary is worth it because multilingualism has cognitive benefits. Whether you have Spanish or French as a school subject, find an English teacher online, or self-study Italian, learning a new language keeps your brain fit! You can use it to train your concentration and memory skills and build up a cognitive reserve. Language learning is easier in childhood, but adults also benefit from this brain training.
HOW BILINGUALISM CHANGES THE BRAIN
Children who grow up bilingual distinguish the two languages perfectly, even though they are active simultaneously in the language centers in the brain. Executive functions are constantly challenged because they must ensure that the correct language is used. The energy expenditure is, therefore, greater, but the advantages nevertheless outweigh the disadvantages.
In one study, a team of scientists led by Andrea Mechelli analyzed the gray matter density of monolinguals and bilinguals. Twenty-five participants had acquired their second language before the age of 5, 33 learned it between the ages of 10 and 15, and 25 participants were monolingual.
Using imaging techniques, the researchers were able to show that the gray matter of bilinguals has a higher density in the left inferior parietal lobe. This brain area is responsible for visual and auditory attention and is also associated with the ability to switch between two languages. However, the researchers found that density decreases with increasing age of acquisition.
An article published in the journal Scientific Reports indicates that individuals who learn a second language in early childhood perceive visual changes faster and can shift their attention more quickly.
So it seems beneficial to acquire a foreign language at the youngest possible age. But we will see from other studies that foreign language acquisition at any age is highly recommended.
LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN ADULTHOOD
Learning a second language is laborious in adulthood, but as with the native language, Wernicke’s area in the left temporal lobe becomes active. It processes the meaning of words and sentences (semantics). Broca’s area in the left frontal lobe, on the other hand, is responsible for syntax, that is, for constructing grammatically correct sentences.
While you are cramming vocabulary and trying to have your first conversations in a foreign language, your brain is changing: it is reorganizing itself to use both languages flexibly.
We have already mentioned that both languages are active in the brain at the same time. As long as you have not yet mastered the foreign language properly, this means an enormous effort. Initially, the restructuring takes place primarily in the prefrontal cortex. After a longer period of time, other brain areas change as well. Our thinking organ adapts in order to effectively master the difficult task of choosing the right language in each case and to avoid interference between languages.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES CHANGE?
A study led by Christos Pliatsikas shows that white matter in the brain changes not only when bilingualism is achieved in early childhood. People who learn a second language later and actively use both languages also show similar effects. This result shows that learning a foreign language is worthwhile at any age.