Learning foreign languages is one of the smartest investments you can make in yourself and your long-term growth and development. People who speak more than one language unlock tons of opportunities. Not only are they able to discover a new culture in-depth but they also experience a number of other personal benefits.
In this article, we present 10 of the major health benefits of learning foreign languages. It doesn’t matter if you’re just beginning or you’re a skilled second-language speaker. Every person who invests time and effort into learning a new language will reap all of these benefits12
According to scientific studies, learning a new language will literally make your brain bigger. Swedish scientific research has shown that subjects who took an intensive language course increased their brain mass in the section that’s connected to learning languages.
1. Fights off dementia
Studies on people with predispositions to Alzheimer’s and dementia have shown that bilingual people fend off Alzheimer’s disease for five additional years compared to monolingual people. This seems unbelievable, but additional studies have confirmed those same results.
Therefore, these research results prove something truly incredible: learning a foreign language has a much stronger impact on dementia than any other solution, ever pharmaceutical products.
2. Improves memory
Children who grow up in a bilingual environment will have a higher memory capacity than children who grow up hearing only one language. This means that children who learn a foreign language from their earliest days will have highly-developed abilities for the following:
- logic games and tasks (riddles)
Bilingual or multilingual children will also have an easier time pursuing higher levels of academic success.
Even in adult age, learning a foreign language is a great way to improve your memory capacity. Studies have even shown that multilingual people have an easier time remembering lists, names, numbers and addresses.
3. Better auditory perception
Learning a foreign language enhances our auditory capabilities because the brain needs to practice and learn how to differentiate between sounds from different languages. Excelling at music is also connected to improved auditory abilities from learning foreign languages.
It’s best to have written-out words and phrases in front of you and then compare them to what’s being said (in recordings, videos, TV shows, etc). If you need a side-by-side translation of a text so you can follow what’s being pronounced, you can order a translation from professional translating services. Simultaneous listening and reading of a foreign language is the best way to improve your auditory abilities.
4. Increases self-confidence
Self-confidence is an incredibly important part of battling stress, boosting mental health and promoting well-being. Learning a foreign language and discovering new cultures and worlds is a surefire way of becoming more open, understanding and self-confident.
Learning a foreign language to fluency is also incredibly challenging. For example, Korean can be really hard to learn for native English speakers. For Korean to English translation services, many use the service they can find at website translation services. However, when you achieve that goal of Korean fluency, you will enjoy a huge rush of self-confidence. You will feel like you really can learn anything in the world!
5. Delays ageing
Learning a foreign language increases the brain’s flexibility, which results in a delayed ageing process of the brain. You know those adorable old grannies who are sharp, witty and solve crossword puzzles like it’s no big deal? Well, you can be exactly like that when you grow old if you learn languages!
During adult age, bilingualism and multilingualism will improve your analytical skills and abilities to make connections and synthesize information. In other words, knowing two or more languages will keep you thinking young and quickly!
6. Better cognitive performance
A research study from a Scottish university showed that bilingual and multilingual people achieve better results in general IQ tests, focus more easily and are able to maintain focus for a longer time. This reflects in better achievements not only in academic success but in professional life later on. People who are bilingual or multilingual have higher chances of success in their professional careers.
7. Less stress
Stress is an inevitable part of everyday life and you must learn how to manage it. People use wildly different strategies to cope with stress, from positive ones (exercising, socializing, reading) to negative ones (binge eating, isolating, sleeping too much). Learning a foreign language is one of the healthiest ways to decrease stress.
8. Increases happiness hormones levels
Having a great language learning day or week will do wonders for your happy hormones – dopamine, endorphine and oxytocin. For example, after you finally tackle that lesson or structure you’ve been battling with for weeks, you will get a real dopamine rush. This will leave you feeling motivated, ambitious and overall happy.
9. Improved mental health
A decrease in stress levels and a spike in happiness hormones that we have previously mentioned will help you fend off depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. If you’re struggling with these disorders, learning a foreign language might help you take your mind off those intrusive and overwhelming thoughts.
Next to the obvious cultural and professional benefits, learning foreign languages has positive impacts on health as well. These benefits are mostly evident in language learning and its impact on the brain. Basically, if you want to think at your best and use your higher-thinking skills to solve complex problems, try learning a foreign language.
There are also other positive effects: learning languages can help you fend off disease, be less stressed, more self-confident and happier. If you’re having trouble focusing or memorizing things, learning a new language should be your go-to brain exercise.
Mark Blackwood is a professional translator and English language teacher. He works both with children and adults and specializes in second language acquisition. Mark is currently learning his fifth language – Mandarin.