The health benefits of learning a foreign language are not always the first thing people think about. After all, language learning offers many advantages that are a bit more tangible: work and education opportunities, easier travel, access to great content to name just a few.
However, the health benefits may actually be the bigger and more important ones. How does being smarter and living a longer and healthier life sound? Learning a foreign language can help you with that.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the greatest health benefits of learning a foreign language – if they’re not a motivation to learn a foreign language, then I don’t know what is.
1. Improved Confidence
Learning a foreign language often involves a lot of psychological self-improvement. You have to overcome your shyness, insecurities, and various language barriers. You have to pluck up your courage, take risks, and make mistakes.
This is a natural part of language learning, and it will also help you in other areas of your life. By improving your confidence in your language abilities, you boost your overall confidence, which is extremely helpful.
2. Improved Cognitive Function
Whether you’re studying Chinese, Korean or any other foreign language, you constantly exercise your brain in different ways: learn new vocabulary, focus on particular rules, switch between your mother tongue and the foreign language.
Not only this helps you improve your language level, but it also improves your cognitive abilities: increases your attention span, improves your memory, improves your abstract and symbolic representation skills, and more.
Various studies show bilinguals performing better than monolinguals at a variety of cognitive tests – so, yes, learning a foreign language can actually make you smarter.
Further reading on Health Benefits of Foreign Language Study :
3. Fight Low Mood and Depression
Learning a language can make you happier not just through enjoyable content, although that’s a benefit in itself.
First of all, it helps you develop mindfulness: you concentrate on the task at hand, blocking out negative thoughts and anything non-essential.
Secondly, learning a foreign language exposes you to new ideas and expands your social circle. You can build meaningful connections with people from all over the world, which can be very beneficial for your well-being.
4. Increased Ability to Multitask
Although researchers say that multi-tasking is not always effective, we all have to do it in our daily lives – and bilingual people can do it better.
When learning a foreign language, you improve your memory and attention span, as well as your ability to focus. You also regularly have to switch from language to language, task to task. This helps you focus and switch between tasks when doing other things, too, increasing your ability to multitask.
Adding language learning when you already have too many things on your plate may seem counter-productive, but, in fact, it will help you deal with all the many tasks you have much more effectively.
5. Better Decision Making Skills
Studies have shown that bilingual people make decisions more rationally and rely on emotions less than monolinguals. This often leads to decisions that are objectively better.
How does this happen?
One of the reasons is that people who can speak more than one language are better at picking up and understanding nuances and subtleties of meaning. They are constantly exposed to a different worldview and different ways of expressing the same ideas. This helps them better analyse various options when they have to make a decision.
What is more, bilingual people simply practice making rational decisions more often: choosing between vocabulary units and grammar rules, comparing and contrasting the two languages, looking for ways to express meaning.
6. Stimulates Creativity
Foreign language learners have to exercise their creativity more often than ‘regular’ people. For instance, they often have to find creative ways of working around their lack of vocabulary or grammar. They are also exposed to new ideas and new ways of seeing the world through their target language.
Learning a foreign language also teaches you to improvise: you can’t possibly communicate using set-expressions and prepared speeches only, you constantly need to come up with ideas and find ways to say what you mean on the spot.
Similar to other examples in this article, improving your creativity in language learning develops it in other areas as well. So, if being more creative is what you are looking for, give language learning a try.
7. Delayed Onset of Dementia
Research indicates that learning a foreign language delays the onset of degenerative brain diseases, dementia in particular, by over four years.
How does it work? Learning a foreign language creates new connections between the neurons in your brain and literally strengthens your brain matter, keeping it healthy for longer – kind of like physical exercise keeps your body fit and healthy by training your muscles.
Another piece of great news is that you can start learning at any time in your life: not only those who become bilingual at a young age can reap this benefit. But don’t delay learning a language either – with the great health and other benefits it offers, now is the only time to start.
Learning a foreign language is commonly associated with better career and travel opportunities. It also gives you access to fun content and information from other parts of the world. However, the health benefits of learning a foreign language may be even more significant; after all who doesn’t want to be smarter and healthier too?
Learning a foreign language improves your memory and overall cognitive abilities, helps you multi-task and make decisions more effectively, makes you more creative, and keeps your brain healthy much longer. And all you need to do is to start learning a language, so why wait?
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