21 September 2018

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The Benefits of Learning Another Language

The Benefits of Learning Another Language

The common belief used to be that being multilingual lessened your educational capabilities; slowing you down due to the necessity to learn information in two languages at once. However, studies have discovered that talking in at least two languages leads to incredible educational advantages. The brains of bilingual individuals work distinctly in contrast to single dialect speakers, and these distinctions offer significant benefits.

These properties are evident in individuals who talk multilingually frequently. The less you utilise this skill, the less beneficial it is to your learning capabilities. It is most effective for those who have molded their cerebrum throughout their early years, however – picking up a language as an adult can also have rewards – it just takes much longer.

One study found that there was a common correlation between spanish fluency and english fluency. In fact, the literacy level of the child in Spanish was a reliable predictor of how well the child would be performing in English two years later. Learning multiple languages helps children to see the differences in grammatical structures between languages. When children are able to identify this, they are able to more completely understand the reasoning behind this distinction. In fact, studies have shown that bilingual children are consistently earlier to develop understanding of language conventions.

More generally, there is now a large amount of research which supports the idea that bilingualism has lifelong benefits. Children who have grown up multilingual have more sensitive perceptual abilities – they have been found to be able to identify when people in a muted video are speaking different languages much better than monolingual children, even if the languages they are speaking are unfamiliar to the child!

It’s not just a perceptual advantage though! Multilingualism has cognitive advantages too. Bilingual children are better at retaining attention, inhibiting dominant responses (e.g. avoiding crying whilst being bullied in order to seem strong), and switching between attention sources. Perhaps this doesn’t sound so important to you, but the ability to control your attention pertains to your ability to concentrate and be efficient. Your ability to concentrate lends itself to daily activities such as driving. The ability to split your attention between your speedometer and any potential hazards could save you a lot of trouble. This is just one of the many benefits. This ability extends into every area of multi-tasking.

Research has also found that bilingualism leads to a later onset of Alzheimer’s disease by 5 years! Even though the disease affects the brains of both monolingual and bilingual individuals at the same time, bilinguals consistently show the behaviours related to Alzheimer’s at a much later stage. The cognitive skills associated with bilingualism have a strong mitigating effect.

Finally, one of the best reasons for learning another language is that – it’s easy! Just spending 5 minutes a day on a language can culminate over time into complete fluency. The main key is consistency.

If you wish to learn a language, K12 Academy currently offers different workshops. We would be more than happy to help you on your way.

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