We all hear that it is best to start learning another language at a young age, but the reality is that it is never too late in life to learn a second language. Even as adults, learning a foreign language has incredible cognitive health benefits, not to mention the benefits of potential career advancement and enriched travel experiences.
Benefits of learning a foreign language on the brain and for general health
Increases attention span.
An individual’s attention span vastly improves as they learn (and speak) another language, because it requires the ability to switch between the languages and know when it is appropriate to do so.
Learning a language helps to improve memory, as you process and store more information required for the different languages. As your memory improves and you are able to recall another language, remembering other facts and events in life will become easier as well.
Improves ability to multitask.
Similar to the above benefits, bilinguals can multitask and switch between tasks more easily, similar to how they can switch between languages.
Delays onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Learning a language is a workout for the brain as you process and speak different languages. This helps to keep your brain healthy and keeping your brain active is a way to delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Delays ageing of the brain.
Your brain becomes more flexible and makes quick connections through learning another language, which delays the ageing of the brain.
When you learn a new language, you are operating outside of your ‘norm’ and getting creative is a requirement.
How to learn a new language as an adult
Language learning apps
In today’s digital age, there is an app for just about anything! Language apps such as Babbel can help you greatly when learning a foreign language and give you a tool you can consistently use anywhere, anytime. They have vocabulary and grammar lessons to do, and many of them are gamified so it makes learning more fun.
Listen to a podcast
To absorb linguistic knowledge, listen to a podcast in the language you are learning in a topic that you are really interested in. Vocabulary will be more familiar to you, and as you are invested in the topic you’ll pay closer attention to what you are listening to.
Movies are a way you can enhance your language skills while also enjoying a form of entertainment. Start with a movie that you already know and love so that you can already be familiar with phrases, or with children’s movies! You can add subtitles as needed, then start to turn them off when you think you are comprehending it all.
Follow a language course
A language course is a way you can immerse yourself in the language and hone in on things like grammar. With structured lessons, you can learn how to speak like a native and advance your language skills.
Abroad work experience
The easiest way to learn a language quickly is to be fully immersed in it. If you have the opportunity to work abroad (or study abroad), it can really advance your language skills as you are basically forced to speak the local language. And if you aren’t forced to do so, make it a point to! The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
Make an international friend
When you speak with a native speaker, the time and knowledge you’ll gain is priceless! You learn a lot about accents, how to convey phrases and certain vocabulary, and more. If you have a friend who speaks the language you are learning, spend some extra time with them and their friends/family and you will notice your language skills advancing rapidly.
Learning a language is a way you can maintain the brain’s elasticity, which has an important impact later in life. It is a great skill that you will be thankful to have throughout your life, and reap the benefits even more as you age.