There are several obvious advantages to being able to speak a second language: it increases your career opportunities, it makes traveling easier, you have the opportunity to communicate with diverse and interesting people and it helps you to appreciate another culture. But recent studies show that learning another language actually helps your brain to function more efficiently.
I am fascinated and envious of anyone who is bilingual. As someone who has had to learn a second language the hard way, i.e. through years of grammar lessons and painfully embarrassing situations in Spain where even going to the supermarket is a challenge (how do I explain to the cashier that I don’t have a club card?) it amazes me how easily bilingual people can slip between two, sometimes three different languages.
But I was pleased to read that my years of struggle do not appear to be in vain. According to The Guardian, bilingual people who contract Alzheimer’s are able to resist the disease for an average of four years more than those who only speak one language.
Far from the presumption that speaking several languages confuses the brain, studies have shown that as well as having health benefits, regularly using more than one language actually bolsters mental function. Bilinguals are better at multitasking and prioritising.
“The bottom line is that bilingualism is good for you” says psychologist Judith Kroll.
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