Learning two languages is not easy and there are many people who will only just barely get a firm grasp on the one language that they do learn. However, there are people around the world who speak multiple languages, and it benefits them.
Common Theory… We Were So Off!
Before recently, commonly practiced educational theory told us that learning more than one language would make it more difficult to learn the primary language that a person would use most often. We were told that wasted brain power would be spent if we learned other languages aside from our native language. Even immigrants were encouraged to not let their kids speak their native language at home as it would “hinder” their child’s ability to absorb formal education.
Now, thanks to the Swedish Academy of Young Translators and other such institutions, the more contemporary educational theory behind learning more than one language is that it is good and beneficial. Children, teenagers, and college students are learning more than one language in school and it is paying off.
Recent Studies Backed by Scientific Evidence
In 2004, while conducting a study on language, neuroscientists at University College London discovered that subjects who knew more than one language had increased density of the cerebral cortex in the lower part of the parietal lobe. This is the section of the brain that controls our cognitive skills (attention span, awareness, thought processing, etc…).
Beyond this, it has been proven that elderly people can fight dementia by learning foreign languages. Learning languages strengthens their brain in ways that combat dementia.
The Power in Our Brain
The brain functions in multiple dimensions; our brains do not learn in a linear manner. There are connections being made constantly from all different portions of the brain and learning a language strengthens some of the connections that our brain naturally creates on its own.
Learning a new language will not lead to split personality disorder or other absurd claims that have been made in the past. Your brain is equipped to organize all of the information that you can possibly give it.
Languages Offer Us New Perspectives
Learning new languages enhance our perspective on our own language and consequently, life itself. We use language to describe and relate to the world around us and there are foreign languages that are very good at doing this as well. We can learn so much from each other and how we describe the world that we live in.
Learning a new language is a great exercise for the brain. It is healthy, it allows for us to communicate with others who we previously wouldn’t be able to effectively communicate with, and it gives us a new perspective on life.
Hmmm… maybe we should all learn another language?