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The Cognitive Benefits of Language Learning

How language learning can improve your cognitive performance.

People learn foreign languages for a variety of reasons. For fun, for work, or for study in a foreign country. At the crux of it, speaking a foreign language connects people from all over the world.

Did you know that learning a new language also has great cognitive benefits?

It’s even been proven by scientific research.

A bilingual person has a better:

  • Attention span

  • Task switching capabilities

And that’s just to mention a few.

In this British Academy-funded study, researchers set out to find the cognitive, academic and age-related advantages of a bilingual brain.

Here’s what they found.

Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual

Here’s what you can gain from being bilingual:

Heightened Academic Performance

Researchers found that learning additional languages can help you excel in other subjects. This was evident across several countries, where students from different social-economic backgrounds spoke multiple languages.

It might take time for multilingual learners time to catch up with their monolingual counterparts as they learn subjects in another language. But eventually, they do catch up, and even surpass their peers in other subjects like maths and science.

Cognitive Flexibility

If you’re bilingual, your native language will always stay active in your memory.

When a person speaks to you in a foreign language, you’ll hear the words in your native language’s order, and you’ll start guessing words to match the signal. This sharpens cognition since it requires attention and focus.

Since people who are bilingual are brought up around others who speak different languages, they’re shown to have more empathy. They also have a more open and global mindset.

Another study’s findings reveal that after three months of studying a foreign language, a learner’s brain grows in the following areas:

  • Hippocampus

  • Middle frontal gyrus

  • Inferior frontal gyrus

  • Superior temporal gyrus

Cognitive Decline Slow Down

It’s no secret that the brain begins to shut down as we age.

But learning a foreign language can help slow the ageing process. It also delays the onset of age-related diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.

This is because learning a language engages the brain, especially the parts that are affected by the ageing process.

Enhances Creativity

Being bilingual helps you think more logically. It also enhances creativity.

How does this happen?

During the initial stages of learning a new language, learners often forget words. So, they have to reach for alternatives.

As a result, they experimented with new phrases. This, in turn, sharpens their divergent skills, which enables them to find multiple solutions for a single problem.

Can Learning a Foreign Language Benefit Your Brain?


Learning a foreign language hosts a multitude of benefits, on top of granting you the opportunity to work and study abroad.

Being bilingual allows you to excel academically, encourages problem-solving abilities, enhances creativity, and even slows down ageing.

In a nutshell, speaking multiple languages does more than boost your brainpower. It has the power to deepen your relationships, broaden your perspective, and create connections from all around the globe!

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