Let’s get straight down to it.
If you speak two languages, you’re bilingual.
Speak three, and you’re trilingual.
If you speak more than three, you’re a polyglot.
And if you’re any of the above, you can also describe yourself as multilingual.
Now for a cool fact: did you know that the world’s population has more multilingual people than speakers of just one language?
Multi-talented, multilingual individuals are everywhere. And they’re having a ball of a time.
Why? Because there’s so much more to life when you’ve got more than one language to your name.
Want proof? Keep reading and we’ll give it to you!
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7 benefits to having a bilingual brain
When we say becoming bilingual – or trilingual, or a polyglot, even – can change your life, we’re not exaggerating.
The benefits to learning a foreign language are numerous and vast; but the way it positively affects your brain is beyond compare.
The simple act of learning a language can train and develop your mind to retain more information, juggle tasks better and even fight diseases like dementia.
Here’s just a few ways that language learning can benefit your brain.
(Just so you monolinguists out there know what you’re missing out on – or what you multilinguists have to gain by adding another language to your repertoire!)
1. It boosts your IQ
That’s right: learning a language actually makes you smarter!
You see, all bilinguals and multilinguists have a higher density of grey matter – dark tissue found in the brain and spinal cord – than monolingual individuals.
What this means for bilinguals is heightened ‘sensory perception’ – in plain English, superior sight, hearing, feeling, moving, speaking… The list goes on.
As you can imagine, all this has a massive impact on your IQ, as a recent study has shown.
The message here is simple: when it comes to IQ, learning a language matters.
2. It helps you focus
“What were we just talking about again?”
An awkward situation you won’t find yourself in nearly as much once you’ve got another language under your belt.
Developing stellar language skills increases your attention span by strengthening your brain’s frontal cortex.
The impact? Bilingual children and adults are more able to extract and focus on useful information, and buckle down to the task at hand.
3. It helps you multitask
Task- and device-switching – they’re skills you need to survive in this day and age, both personally and professionally.
Luckily enough for bilinguals, multitasking is as good as second nature, thanks to all the time they spend to-ing and fro-ing between one language and another.
So there you have it: languages are the new modern superpower.
4. It aids better decision-making
Two words: cognitive reserve. Bilinguals can make better decisions because of it.
In simple terms, it has been argued that bilingual individuals find it easier to find alternative solutions or ways round a problem than monolingual people.
Now you know how to prepare for your next life- or work-related crossroad!
5. It delays dementia
We’re not joking around about this one. Learning a language has been proven to delay the onset of dementia.
By nearly 4 years, to be exact, with the first signs of dementia showing in monolingual adults at an average age of 71.4, and bilingual people at 75.5.
6. It improves your memory
It’s no surprise, really, when you think about all that vocabulary and verb conjugation cramming language learners have to do.
People who are fluent in more than one language have better short-term memories (or working memories) in comparison to those with only one, single language to their name.
7. It makes you more aware of language
This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
The more you understand the frameworks for and nuances of multiple languages, the more likely you are to notice subtle similarities or differences between them. These are the sort of things monolinguists would have real trouble spotting.
In short, being bilingual – or a polyglot – is the gateway to effective communication, whether that takes the form of dealing with work politics, writing a paper or resolving a family spat.
What about you?
Are you bilingual, trilingual or multilingual? If so, which languages do you speak, and how did you learn them?
Comment and let us know!
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