We all have our own reasons for learning a second language—maybe you want to transform your travel experience, study or live overseas, discover a new culture, gain confidence, or improve your employability. But did you know a number of studies throughout the years have shown that learning a second language can drastically change your mental abilities as well? According to research, bilingual students tend to score better on standardized tests than their peers, excelling with skills involving reading, vocabulary, and even math. Some studies even suggest that exercising the brain by learning a new language can actually alter brain matter in much the same way that muscles are altered through rigorous exercise. If you’re looking for a way to boost your brainpower, learning English as a second language may be the ideal choice.
Learning at Any Age
You may have heard the idea that learning a second language is much easier for young children, as they pick up new words and syllables rapidly. However, findings show that learning a second language can lead to increased brain function regardless of your age when you start learning. Studies show that those who are fluent in two languages tend to perform better on attention and memory tests than those who speak only one language, and bilinguals tend to even have better concentration as well. This, of course, is in addition to the spectrum of research studies that show that bilingual students tend to perform better in school than their monolingual peers.
Rapid Brain Growth
One of the more interesting facts about studying a second language is that the effects of this learning can be seen in the brain. Students attending the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy are typically required to learn a second language at a startlingly rapid pace. Many achieve mastery in one or more languages, learning English, Russian, Arabic, or other dialects in only thirteen months. In comparison, most medical students are expected to learn massive amounts of information in a very short period of time while pursuing their degrees. To study the effects of language on learning efforts, researchers compared the brains of the Swedish students to the brains of the medical students. The result? The Swedish students showed significant new brain growth throughout their hippocampus and in sections of the cerebral cortex, while the brains of the medical students showed no observable growth. Even more interesting is the fact that the Swedish students who showed the most marked increase in language skills also had the most brain growth!
The science proves it—if you’re looking for a great way to improve your mental acumen, learning English as a second language is the perfect method. Check out our website for more details on how we can help get you started.