The Benefits of Learning a Language Later in Life
"To have another language is to possess a second soul.” - Charlemagne
Language and our Brains
Whether it be French or Finnish, learning a language takes a toll on our brains. Aside from those lucky folks who grew up in bilingual homes most of us have developed with one native language programmed into our brains. If you decide to learn a language later in life and feel that it’s simply too hard, too time-consuming, and too late, think again.
Studies have shown that learning a language at any age has multiple benefits. For starters, legitimate physical changes take place in our brains when we start the process to becoming multilingual. According to this study, it is highly likely that structural neuroplasty occurs when being exposed to a different tongue. Long story short, our brains function longer and more efficiently.
Stop Aging in its Tracks
Not only does language learning help improve brain function, but it may turn back the clock and delay the effects of aging and diseases related to getting older.
Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that the second we learn “bonjour” all of our wrinkles will magically disappear. However if dementia runs in your family, language learning just might be better than doing Sudoku every day.
Results found in this research study point to a delay in the chance of a person getting alzheimer’s by an average of 4.5 years if they add language learning to their life. In other words, developing your brain through language learning is more than a self-confidence booster, it’s a tangible benefit.
Pass it Along
How many of us have said to a parent or guardian at one point or another, “how come you never put me in (insert language) classes earlier?!” We’ve been told many times that the younger we are the more receptive our brains are to learning a language.
Photo Credits: romana klee
While this may be true you might have a chance to reverse this missed opportunity. If you have young kids, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren, they are sitting there waiting for motivation. Maybe your first suggestion of enrolling in a Spanish class or practicing some French phrases with you won’t take at first. Eventually something will give and that child will be thanking you a million times when they are fluent in a second language before they even hit college.
Learning a second, or third or fourth, language can be an extremely great way to add some motivation and goal-reaching to your life. Many of us are making New Year’s resolutions this time of year, so what better way to create a sustainable resolution than to plan a Langua Travel trip?
Photo Credits: Ron Mader
Even though it has been proven that resolutions dealing with day-to-day, mundane improvements (that vow to drink more water which we make every year) generally are not successful, setting a date to learn a language abroad or actually buying books to make language learning a reality is a much more inspiring (and surprisingly achievable!) resolve.
Finally, adding any dimension of fluency in a second language to your life opens doors you might not even know existed. Being able to communicate with someone who may not speak English is an incredibly valuable asset in any field.
If you are someone who is content or maybe even bored at your workplace, being bilingual is that extra skill that shows dedication and passion to your boss and coworkers. Even better if you are someone who is on the job hunt, language as well as travel experience are contributing factors that could push your resume to the top.
Photo Credits: Sebastiaan ter Burg
It is crucial to remember that it is not too late to pursue your language learning dreams! Whether you know what language you want to learn and where you would like to learn it, or if you have no idea, now is definitely the time to start taking action. The benefits are diverse...further, the places you go, people you meet and knowledge you gain along the way will not be forgettable.