There are many reasons to study a language. Reasons might be vocational, educational, recreational, or personal. But some of the most important reasons to study a language are health-related. Check out the brain benefits of learning a language.
Learning a language increases gray matter
Learning new things create new connections in the brain. In the case of learning a language, it seems that those connections expand into even expanding how much gray matter is being used. The brain matter is bilinguals is denser. Denser brain matter makes for a healthier brain. Your brain may grow in density or may expand how much is being used, but either way, learning a language is making your brain smarter.
Learning a language increases attention
The repetition involved in memorizing vocabulary and language structures can actually make the hippocampus larger. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory. A larger hippocampus means increased long term memory. Stronger memory is one of the most powerful health benefits of learning a foreign language. When bilingual children do advanced memory tasks, they outperform monolingual children. Other studies have shown that adults who speak multiple languages (regardless of the age they start learning another language) are better at recalling names, directions, and shopping lists by memory.
Learning a language increases brain health
The creation of new connections in the brain by learning a language also slows the onset of Alzheimer’s. Studies show that language learning in particular can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia by 5 years. It may not prevent these brain diseases, but every year with your brain intact is worth any difficulties you may experience while trying to learn a new language. There are many brain-based reasons that language learning should be top on anyone’s list of things to do to maintain brain health.
Learning a language improves stroke recovery rate
Over 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, which makes strokes one of the leading causes of death and disability in the US. Research shows a link between bilingualism and the rate of recovery of cognitive capacity after a stroke. Those who are bilingual have a higher cognitive reserve, by which brains build up strong neural networks that are better equipped to bounce back from damage. A recent study in India indicated that over 40 percent of study participants who were bilingual were able to recover their full cognitive functions following a stroke.