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August 12, 2011 at 10:02 AMComments: 3 Faves: 1

Exercise your brain with bilingualism

By Dayton from SLN More Blogs by This Author

UÄÂit se další jazyk

Can you read the heading to this paragraph? Unless you were raised in a czech household or took formal czech classes, probably not. It says 'Learn another language', but why?

People have many reasons to learn a language that isn't their native tongue. Maybe the work they do requires them to be bilingual or have moved to a location where a different language is needed to communicate to the majority of people around you.  Having more than one language is as much of an asset as it is an art. Every language has a huge background of culture and tradition behind it! Researchers agree that the benefits of learning a second language are amazing! Not only is it a very practical endeavor but it is also a very healthy goal to achieve.  

Hälsoeffekterna av ett andraspråk

When you start to learn another language you are exercising your mind more so than if you stuck with just your native tongue. Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto, Canada says, "Being able to use two languages and never knowing which one you're going to use right now rewires your brain." When you have another language at your disposal it requires your brain to increase higher level functioning.

A study shows that bilinguals are better multi-taskers than their single language counterparts.  The attentional executive system of the brain is the most important cognitive piece in how we think and when another language enters the equation that is enhanced. Executive functioning is what goes on that let's us achieve a specific goal. It also sorts out information in relation to our goal, keeping and applying information that moves us toward our goal and ignoring information that is irrelevant to us. So in theory learning another language could encourage decision making ability.

Research has also suggested that learning more than one language can decrease the risk of Alzheimer's disease and help cope with the disease. Bilinguals show symptoms of Alzheimer's on average 4 years later that monolinguals. Once the disease start's to destroy areas of the brain bilinguals are able to function better. It is the same principle behind doing crossword puzzles to keep your mind sharp but learning a second language is far more challenging than doing a puzzle in your daily newspaper.  

Apprendre une autre langue

So what are we waiting for? The benefits of learning another language are amazing!  It will take time and commitment just like anything worth doing, but if you want to open another realm of opportunities and increase your higher level brain function, taking on another language will change your life.

Heading Key

Learn another language, Czech

Health benefits to a second language, Swedish

What are you waiting for?, French

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  • It's interesting that you would post this blog today, because I was just listening to a new piece from BBC on the way into work this morning about a girl who actually had tongue surgery so she could more easily speak korean!

  • WOW! that girl has some hardcore dedication to learning korean!

  • Great blog Dayton! I minored in Spanish and they always told me that you have truly starting becoming bilingual when you are able to just switch back and forth from one language to the other easily. (just like you said, really!) I still have yet to master that. But I have thought in Spanish and had dreams in Spanish, which is also a sign you are becoming better at a second language.

    It makes sense that it would reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease because you are really using a lot of memory and brain power when learning a new language. Again, thanks for the blog!

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