Have you always enjoyed the sound of romance languages? Do you wish to learn Japanese due to its differences from western dialects? Whether for fun or for work-related purposes, there are many benefits associated with possessing a bilingual capability. However, one lesser-known fact is that speaking a foreign language might be able to improve your intellect and mental capacity. Is there any research to justify these observations? The chances are high that you will be slightly surprised to find out the answer to this question. Let’s take a closer look.
The Notion of Mental “Plasticity”
Traditional medicine dictated that the brain was a static organ. In other words, it would stop growing and advancing after we reach a certain age. This generally occurred during early adulthood. However, research has come a long way in recent times. It is now known that the mind is very flexible in nature. This is even more relevant when referring to the areas of the brain associated with languages.
Scientists now believe that the neurons themselves (the cells found throughout the brain) will begin to re-route the ways in which they communicate with one another when a new skill is learned. Some even feel that this is the root cause of habits. In other words, the structure of the brain is forced to physically change in order to accommodate new information or skills. This is particularly relevant when speaking of those areas attributed to speaking languages.
Simply stated, the mind is very much like any other muscle throughout the body. It will become stronger as a result of exercise. Of course, we are referring to mental stimulation in this case. Now that we have a basic understanding of why learning languages can help to improve your acuity, it is a good idea to examine some of the best ways to begin.
Working Smart as Opposed to Hard
We will assume for a moment that you plan on learning a new language from scratch. This can be quite a daunting task; especially if you are uncertain where to start. First and foremost, it is wise to take formal classes. These can be in the form of physical sessions or via the online community. These seminars will provide you with the fundamental building blocks that are required as you progress. Here are some other professional suggestions to consider:
- Watch familiar movies in a foreign language.
- Begin an online correspondence with a native speaker.
- Create language “flashcards” to memorize basic words and phrases.
- Practice speaking with others.
- If possible, travel to the country associated with the specific language (becoming immersed within a foreign culture is one of the best ways to learn).
To be perfectly clear, learning any new foreign language will require time and commitment. However, the ability to become bilingual is well worth the initial effort. Whether for fun or to improve your career, a bit of knowledge certainly goes a long way.