People used to think that learning two languages created confusion in the mind.
Far better, it was thought, to get one right than bother with two.
An even more extreme and absurd view was that learning two languages caused a kind of schizophrenia or dual personality.
Some studies did seem to back up the idea that learning two languages could be problematic; early researchers noted that bilingual people tended to have smaller vocabularies and slower access to words.
But these myths and minor disadvantages have now been overshadowed by a wave of new research showing the incredible psychological benefits of learning a second language. And these extend way beyond being able to order a cup of coffee abroad or ask directions to your hotel.
Physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single-language speakers, and these differences offer several mental benefits.
Reach your academic goals with the below three psychological advantages to learning a foreign language. Many of these attributes are only apparent in people who speak multiple languages regularly – if you haven’t spoken a foreign tongue, your brain might not be reaping these bilingual benefits. However, people who begin language study in their adult lives can still achieve the same levels of fluency as a young learner and still reap the same mental benefits, too.
You become smarter
Speaking a foreign language improves the functionality of your brain by challenging it to recognize, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems. This skill boosts your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well.
Increase Mental Function
A study done at PennState University by psychologist Judith Kroll indicated that speaking more than one language keeps the brain in shape and improves mental function. The study found bilinguals performed better than monoglots in mental tasks like prioritizing and multi-tasking. While these skills don’t necessarily make people more intelligent or better learners, bilinguals are better at prioritizing tasks and working on multiple projects at one time. Other studies have shown that these benefits persist in daily life instances, with bilinguals better at remembering shopping lists, names of people recently met, and directions to a new destination.
Improve Decision Making
Researchers from the University of Chicago found that bilinguals react less emotionally to the meaning of words, expressions and advertising slogans in their non-native tongue and suggested this may make people rely more on their analytic processes to make decisions. Plus, a study done in Spain also showed that the improved focus of bilinguals helped them to better spot misleading information.
This is good news for all of us, not just those who learned a second language and speak it fluently at home. According to a study by Dr. Thomas Bak at the University of Edinburgh, you don’t need to be fluent in a second language to see the dementia-delaying and other positive effects; it just matters that you try.