One may get the following benefits from learning foreign languages:
1. Brain growth: Language centers in the brain actually grow as a result of successful language learning. The better you learn, the more those vital areas of the brain grow.
2. Stave off dementia: Bilingualism delays Alzheimer’s disease in susceptible people by as much as five years. Seems incredible, but the studies are continuing to support this result. To put this in context: the effect on dementia of learning another language is much greater than anything achievable with the latest drugs.
3. Hear language better: Being bilingual can lead to improved listening skills, since the brain has to work harder to distinguish different types of sounds in two or more languages.
4. Become more language sensitive: Infants in bilingual households can distinguish languages they’ve never even heard before. Just being exposed to the different sounds in, for example, Spanish and Catalan, helps them tell the difference between English and French.
5. Boost your memory: Babies brought up in a bilingual environment have stronger working memories than those brought up with only one language. This means they are better at mental calculation, reading and many other vital skills.
6. Better multi-tasking: Bilingual people can switch from one task to another more quickly. They show more cognitive flexibility and find it easier to adapt to unexpected circumstances.
7. Increased attention: Bilinguals have stronger control over their attention and are better able to limit distractions.
8. Double the activation: Cognitive boosts, like improved attention and better multi-tasking, may come because bilingual people have both languages activated at the same time, and must continually monitor which one is appropriate. All that switching back and forth confers the mental benefits.
9. New ways of seeing: Learning a new language can literally change the way you see the world. Learning Japanese, for example, which has basic terms for light and dark blue, may help you perceive the color in different ways.
10. Improve your first language: Since learning a second language draws your attention to the abstract rules and structure of language, it can make you better at your first language.
11. Exploring other cultures: You may explore other cultures through learning foreign languages. This will enable you to see your own culture from the perspective of another.
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” – Charlemagne
“You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.” – Geoffrey Willans