Learning another language can quite literally help to improve and extend the quality of your life. Here are five reasons to crack open that language learning course, and a few links to help you learn a language the quick and fun way.
1. Learning Another Language Boosts Your Skills
We could all do with a bit of a brain boost, especially when faced with our morning Sudoku. The good news is, learning another language appears to improve our skill sets in several areas, meaning that you don’t just get a new language under your belt but also see benefits in a number of other areas.
Studies have shown people who are bilingual are likely better at multitasking, have a better attention span, are better listeners and even have better memories. All this can lead to a noticeable jump in standardized test score performance. But the changes aren’t just intellectual!
2. Learning Another Language Makes Your Brain Grow
We know that acquiring skills in speaking another language has intellectual benefits, but that learning a language makes your brain grow isn’t just hyperbole. Adults learning a second language (or even a third or fourth!) have been shown to present with actual changes in several regions of the brain that serve language functions. This includes increases in hippocampus volume and changes to cortical thickness.
The good news is, anyone of any age can benefit from learning a language. As we’re often told, a stimulated brain is a healthy one.
3. Being Bilingual May Stave off or Even Prevent Degenerative Brain Conditions
It has long been known that keeping the brain active is important to stave off diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Research shows that learning another language early on in life can help stave of mental lapses as we get older, but even starting when we have a few good kilometers on the clock can have rewards.
Even in those who do go on to develop dementia, it appears that bilinguals might do so up to five years later than their monolingual counterparts and, some studies show, see the condition progress much more slowly and so may have a better quality of life for longer.
4. Learning a Second Language May Make You More Creative
Due to the fact that language learning requires you to grasp the structure, rules and differences of a language, it is highly likely that as a result of learning another language you will become more aware of your native language, helping to correct any imperfections and improving general usage.
More than that, there is also some evidence to show that because learning a foreign language requires thought about how to describe objects and people, you may acquire a new eye for detail and so boost your creativity.
5. Learning Another Language Lets You Explore Another Culture
Learning another language provides an ideal opportunity to explore other cultures. This can lead to a more authentic understanding of a culture that in turn can inform your language skills, making you a more rounded bilingual speaker. It’s also a great excuse for a holiday so you can really test your language learning skills!
Now, here are some tips and great resources so you can start learning a language easily right from the comfort of your own home:
- The web is saturated with language learning help. Here is an extensive list of free language learning resources, but a quick search brings up thousands of pages and many great blogs dedicated to the topic.
- Did you know that simple web browser add-ons can help turn your everyday Web browsing into a language learning master class? Here’s the how to.
- You could also use YouTube to listen to native speakers give language learning tutorials. Here’s one for learning German that I’m enjoying right now and here’s a list of YouTube channels for learning French.
- You could also download free courses and podcasts from online stores like iTunes and listen to them while at the gym, in the car, or anywhere where you can multitask.
Lastly, have fun with the process. Play games and enjoy the experience. After all, learning should be a pleasure, not a chore.
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