The Benefits of Learning a Second Language | GoProfe

Neurologists have recommended learning a foreign language as a way to improve the health of your brain and auditory system, delay the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and improve your concentration. So head over to goprofe.com to find a teacher and get started today!

benefits
Learning a second language has many benefits

It’s more and more common to see students over 30 learning languages in language schools in Aragón. The demand for language courses has grown not just because of the need to have foreign language skills on your CV, but also because of the cerebral benefits that learning a new language can have.

Recently, the Asociación de Promotores de Cursos de Idiomas (Aseproce), a Spanish association that promotes language courses, highlighted the rise in the average age of foreign language students “because one can learn English at any time in life, for example, since it will always be useful and entertaining”.

Learning another language means acquiring greater brain plasticity, since it improves your concentration and as a whole it delays aging and the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s. According to Juan Antonio Planas, the president of the Asociación Aragonesa de Psicopedagogía, “Languages can be learned at any age, the main factor is your motivation”. In Planas’ opinion, the capacity to learn another language is “innate”, because we our brains are already prepared to learn a second language. “It’s true that at earlier ages, it’s simpler, but age doesn’t have to be an obstacle to learning new languages like English, because adults have experience, they know grammatical structures and some lessons are easier for them”.

People who don’t speak English think that it is a difficult language, since it has Germanic roots, not Latin ones like French or Italian. However, the all of these languages and many more come from the same common root: Indo-European. This means that languages as different as Russian, Spanish or English follow the same mental structure: subject, verb, predicate… “And adults already understand these structures. All these languages have a universal substrate and without realizing we all have the innate capacity to conjugate its verbs: we all understand that there’s a past, a future, and a participle…”. Therefore, Planas believes that an important premise to learning a language is “to go with the flow” in order to get back the ease that little kids have when they learn a language. “One has to overcome some battles like pronunciation, but motivation and effort will be enough support”. The educational psychologist recommends language courses as well as listening to songs and watching movies in the original version, “when we understand something, it will be a small success that will help us to continue learning”, he says.

Finding work

Entertaining your auditory system joins a cerebral workout: learning a new language helps to differentiate and better codify sounds and tones. The ear learns to distinguish linguistic sounds from ones that aren’t, leading to greater flexibility.

Knowing a second language has become a key factor in finding a job. One study from the Fundación Universia highlights that the most valued skill by employers (hasta un 96,4%) when selecting a candidate is their mastery of English. According to Adecco in their recent Empleabilidad e Idiomas report, “English remains an essential requirement in more than 86% of job postings. The growing global valuation of knowing languages is also contributing to a general increase in the interest of many students and workers for learning languages in order to have a greater number of opportunities in the labor market”.

Adecco highlights in their study the growing internationalization of companies and the importance of exports in business. “The demand for candidates than know how to communicate in other languages in areas that are constantly in contact with providers, clients or different markets. This is the case in the area of exports, an area that again presents a greater valuation of languages in their job postings”. Industrial engineering, economics, law and technical engineering have increased the percentage of job postings that demand a second language.

Brain plasticity

With a second language “all cognitive functions, attention, perception, memory, intelligence, and language” improve, according to scientists from the University College London that did a study with one hundred subjects, eighty of which were bilingual. They concluded that learning another language alters the brain’s structure, specifically the area that processes information. From the University of York, in Canada, they note that learning a new language like English would be capable of increasing cognitive speed.

Delaying Alzheimer’s

People that learn a second language can delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s by up to five years, according to a study published in the magazine Neurology. The study was done in Toronto, Canada by the Rotman Research Institute. Some 200 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s presented a distinct evolution: those that had learned a second language (half of the patients) managed to delay up to five years symptoms like memory loss and confusion.

Greater concentration

Learning a language strengthens your capacity to concentrate. Penn State University’s Center for Language Science, in the United States, explains that speakers of second languages are able to multitask better and faster. The experts agree that workers whose resumes show that they speak English or another language are better equipped for teamwork and can take on greater responsibilities.

A neural workout

The brain can stay active through exercises. Neurologists agree that the more you use you brain, the less often it will fail you in functions like memory. Learning a language is one of the most complete exercises, because it activates the memory and creates new connections when changing from one language to another. So, functions like language remain active just like others like reasoning, judgment, abstraction, or calculation. The workout starts from the first lesson.     

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