Although it helps, learning a new language doesn’t only assist with boosting your CV and making travelling that little bit easier, it benefits many cognitive processes too.
Studies have shown that being able to speak two or more languages aids a number of cognitive processes. The brains of those that can speak multiple languages work differently than single language speakers; these differences offer a number of mental benefits.
These benefits only apply to those people that speak multiple languages regularly. If you’re currently learning a language then don’t panic, because you can still reach fluency and you’ll reap the same benefits as those that have been speaking multiple languages since they learned to walk.
Using a language other than your first challenges your brain to negotiate meaning, communicate and recognise alternative language systems. This skill can then be applied to other problem-solving tasks, for example, students who study languages tend to gain higher grades in standardised tests, particularly in the areas of maths and vocabulary.
Switching between two or more languages forces people to swap and change between multiple speech, writing and structure systems. This ability to mentally juggle a number of structures means that linguists become great multi-taskers.
Studies have shown that polyglots are much better than the single language speaker at observing their surroundings and retaining information, as well as omitting anything that’s irrelevant.
We’ve all seen the hundreds of brain training games out there, and that’s because the brain improves with exercise – just like a muscle. When you learn a new language you aren’t just learning a new vocabulary, you have to memorise rules and structures that are very different to what you’re used to. Doing this helps to strengthen your brain and improve overall memory which results in multi-language speakers being much better at retaining and recalling information like shopping lists, directions and phone numbers.