The (Focus & Concentration) Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Understanding a new language is one of the hardest things your brain can do. It’s the ultimate mental workout with the potential to improve your intelligence and keep your mind sharp.

Because we’re interested in improving concentration, let’s take a look at exactly how learning a new language can improve your brain function in terms of focus.

The Benefits of Learning a Second Language

1. Better cognitive skills

Bilingual individuals generally have better cognitive abilities compared to monolinguals. Findings from a study by the University of Edinburgh showed bilinguals to have scored higher on tests of reading, verbal fluency, and intelligence.

The strongest effects were seen in those who learned their second language early in life. However, even if the second language is acquired in adulthood, the aging brain still benefits from it.

2. Better perceptiveness

A study in the UK discovered that being bilingual does affect your ability to focus. They attribute it to the fact that the bilingual brain is used to switching between languages. This trains the brain to become attuned to auditory information, able to tune out distractions and maintain attention on relevant tasks.

3. Better multitasking

Speaking two languages, switching from one to another is related with your ability to multitask. So if you’re proficient in two languages, it also means you’re a good multi-tasker with the ability to switch between tasks and disregard distractions.

4. Better decision-making skills

Each language has its own nuance and implications which affect one’s biases of it subconsciously. Because bilinguals know more than one language, they have a heightened awareness of these linguistic biases making them less prone to making biased decisions.

5. Increased brain size

When you learn a second language, the part of your brain that’s responsible for forming and retrieving memories also grows. One Swedish study observed brain activity of military recruits who had to learn how to speak such as Russian, Dari, and Arabic in just 13 months. In the study, they found that  the hippocampus significantly increased after three months of intensive language training. It definitely pays to explore a second language.

6. Protection against cognitive problems

No matter what age you are, you should always strive to learn something new everyday, like maybe a new phrase from a second language! It’s good for your brain. Many studies have shown that learning a new language, no matter what age, can delay onset dementia and Alzheimer’s by 5 years.

Getting Started

If you were to learn a second language today, I highly recommend Spanish. It’s the second most spoken language in the world with some of its vocabulary containing English words with latin roots. So if you’re already proficient in English, Spanish is the next perfect language to transition to.

In Conclusion

If you were to invest your time in a mental exercise to keep your brain sharp, learning a second language is definitely a worthwhile choice.

Have you experienced any of the benefits mentioned above while learning a second language? Share your comments below!