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Language For A Better Brain

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Did you know that having a second language under your belt not only makes you a more desirable candidate in business, but it also improves your brain?

If you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, perhaps now is the time. Speaking two or more languages presents quite an advantage in life. It’s quite easy to see why. Speaking and understanding different languages not only brings about better communication, cultural awareness, cooperation and adaptation, it also creates a long-lasting versatility in your brain. The article For a Better Brain, Learn Another Language was recently published online by The Atlantic. It’s a fascinating piece–one in which I think is definitely worth the time to read. But, in the meantime, allow me to provide a snapshot of the intriguing information.

Multilingualism brings about a multitude of benefits. According to the article:

Multi-linguals tend to score better on standardized tests, especially in math, reading, and vocabulary; they are better at remembering lists or sequences, likely from learning grammatical rules and vocabulary; they are more perceptive to their surroundings and therefore better at focusing in on important information while weeding out misleading information.

For aspiring students and scholars, it would seem that dedicating extra time and effort in language education is an investment worth making; particularly if standardized tests are a high priority. In fact, I still recall an influx of students in high school registering for Latin classes in preparation for the SATs and ACTs. The secret back then I suppose was that Latin would help us understand extensive vocabulary which in turn would greatly assist in navigating the vocabulary portion of the tests. Today, revisions to standardized tests have been implemented, but what hasn’t changed is the need for a large range of understanding in vocabulary.

crossword

© Flickr user chipgriffin

And while testing and memorization isn’t everything to everyone, learning a second or third or fourth language can unlock particular brain waves that improve our ability to navigate everyday challenges like decision-making and finances:

Multi-linguals might also be better decision-makers . . . they are more resistant to conditioning and framing techniques, making them less likely to be swayed by such language in advertisements or political campaign speeches. Those who speak multiple languages have also been shown to be more self-aware spenders, viewing “hypothetical” and “real” money (the perceived difference between money on a credit card and money in cold, hard cash) more similarly than monolinguals.

When it comes to business, traits such as these are invaluable. Just check out a few samplings of the previous posts on The Methodology Blog that discuss the importance of fiscal responsibility, understanding differences between marketing and advertising, emotions and decision-making, and effective workflow through multiple tasks.

Multilingualism Battles Aging Brains

What’s most surprising in this article however, is the idea that speaking multiple languages staves off dementia. According to a study done by Dr. Thomas Bak, a lecturer in the philosophy, psychology, and language sciences department at the University of Edinburgh, speaking and/or studying multiple languages boosts cognitive ability at any age:

The dementia-delaying effects of learning a second language are not contingent on becoming fluent; it just matters that a person tries to learn it. Even if you’re still confounding your sí’s and oui’s, as Bak says, “Just having the basics of those linguistic connections can delay dementia.”

In recent decades, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have come more readily to the forefront of our attention. Organizations such as The Alzheimer’s Association are bringing forth both awareness and prevention to the everyday conversation. By educating ourselves and taking part in strengthening our brains, we not only sharpen our present minds, but combat future problems as well. So, pick up a crossword or sudoku puzzle from time to time. Become a member on a site like Lumosity. Check out your local community college for foreign language classes or spend some time learning more about Rosetta Stone. The hardest part to improvement is taking that first step toward your goal. Why not take that leap?

Bonne chance! Buena suerte! Bona fortuna! Good luck!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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