What Happens to Your Brain When You Learn A Foreign Language?

Just like you cannot compare a single core computer to its dual-core counterpart in terms of processing speed. Learning a new language works wonder for your brain by waking up all its different parts and it, therefore, processes stored information faster.


One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to constantly train your brain to process in the language you are learning. In short, you need to make more strenuous and awkward conversations with people who know the language better than you. Of course, you may choose to memorize phrases and new vocabulary while learning, but this is not at all sufficient for you to completely master a foreign language.


Anyway, as I have written a post about why you should learn a foreign language before, today, I will take you on a journey inside the brain and show you what happens to your brain when you learn a foreign language.


Your Brain Grows

Our brain is plastic because it is like a muscle that grows when you exercise it regularly. Likewise, when you learn a new language, you are exercising your brain muscles. As a result, the more you exercise your brain, the stronger your brain becomes and the more it increases in size as you acquire more information in the process.


You Make Better Judgments And Decisions

As you put your brain muscles to work, you are altering its structure, while at the same time improving certain functions. For instance, studies have shown that acquiring a new language is correlated to an increase in the size of the gray and white matter in certain relevant regions of the brain.


One of those regions in the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex, which has been found to increase in size because it plays an important role in monitoring which language is being spoken and preventing the other language(s) from intruding our speech[1].


Other relevant regions in the brain include the frontal and parietal areas where it is involved in making good judgments and decisions. Thus, one who is bilingual is generally able to plan (short, medium and long term) more efficiently and effectively than those who are monolingual. This, in turn, affects the bilingual's decision-making processes as the bilingual's brain executes one plan stage after the other. This chronological process will in turn spill over its ripple effects to other parts of the bilingual's life. 


You Gain Quick Wit and Intelligence

Learning a foreign language gradually enables a person to think faster and processes information more quickly. This is usually a result of your brain muscles receiving sufficient exercise when you are constantly learning and taking in new information every day. As you are able to think better and make quick decisions, you will also be able to be succinct in your answers to questions that people throw at you, and smarter enough to deal with much of life's challenges.


You Become More Aware of Your Surroundings

Learning a new language helps the brain to become more attentive to life. This helps you to reason in quadruple ways and see people or things from different perspectives. As such, being able to see the perspectives of others will make you more aware of the people around you and make you more empathic in the process. In the process, you may be able to even think outside the box having known what the box already contains.


You Heightened Your Listening Ability

As you grow to be more aware of your surroundings when you are picking up a foreign language, you will also gradually learn to listen better. This is because different languages have their nuances and phonetics. As such, the brain naturally tends to pay more attention to sounds as they are produced so as to pick what language it is listening to and prepare itself to, with the language set it would respond with.


Your Working Memory Improves

The working memory is a short-term cognitive apparatus whose sole aim is to hold information on a temporal basis. It is responsible for reasoning ability, decision-making, guidance, and behaviors. By learning a foreign language, you will not only be able to stay sharp and alert but your brain will gradually be powerfully enhanced enough to retain acquired information from the language that you learn.


You Are Able to Fight Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

A large research study from the University of Edinburgh has revealed a correlation between bilingualism and progression of dementia and other cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s. Hence, the good news — you can now fight and delay Dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease. Does speaking more than three languages improve your chances of preventing the onset of Dementia? Let's take a look at the polyglots.


Polyglots come blessed with a plethora of words, sounds, and phrases to choose from while maintaining a different database for different languages. Their brain acts swiftly to select from available languages and words to flow in. Switching from one language to another could simply be an exercise for their brains every single day. Therefore, it would not be a surprise if there is a lower chance for polyglots to develop Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.


That said, you do not have to be a polyglot to fight Dementia or Alzheimer's disease. By learning new words and phrases daily, and as you train yourself to speak and think in the language you are learning, this will enable you to gradually become bilingual or trilingual. You might stand a good chance of preventing the onset of Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.


Final Note

Whether you are bilingual, or multilingual, your brain has more potential to grow smarter, wiser, bigger, healthier and faster. There is no better way to stimulate the brain than learning a foreign language.

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