Better working memory and greater flexibility
The benefits of multilingualism can be seen from an early age: multilingual children find it easier to deal with distractions and to focus on different things at the same time, leading to better results in creative challenges such as problem-solving or mathematical tasks. It has also been shown that multilingual children have a better working memory, meaning that they find it easier to keep different tasks in their head while working to resolve them.
Language learning – an effective mental workout
A few years ago, researchers from Lund University compared students from the Swedish Armed Forces’ interpreter training programme, who learn a new language in thirteen months, with technology students from Umeå University. Using MR scans, the researchers were able to show that after three months of studying, nothing had changed in the technology students’ brains. However, the language students showed growth not only in the cerebral cortex, associated with intellect and abstract language, but also in the hippocampus, which controls new learning. This development is thought to keep language students’ brains healthier and more alert later on in life.
A healthy brain – for longer
When comparing older multilingual patients with Alzheimer’s disease with monolingual patients with less serious brain damage, the multilingual patients demonstrated the same cognitive abilities as the monolingual patients. This means that the cognitive functions of the multilingual patients deteriorated more slowly. Several different studies have also shown that multilingualism also reduces the risk of dementia.
The cherry on the cake
A couple of years ago, a local newspaper in Stockholm published an investigation showing that readers placed multilingualism in the list of three most attractive qualities in a potential partner. So language skills might also have a beneficial effect in our search for a life partner or a romantic interest. If nothing else, being able to communicate with more people should mean more choice…
Give your brain a good workout!
The brain is organic, and can be influenced throughout our lives. Learning a new language is a fun and useful way of keeping your brain in good shape. Why not take the opportunity to engage in some personal and professional development by learning a new language – maybe specialising in your own professional field?