Learning a second language is a cognitive workout for your brain, which is why learning a second language is one of the best endeavors you can take on to stay in tip-top form regarding your mental health. It has been said that learning Spanish (or any other second language, for that matter) is one of the best ways to resist aging, sharpen your mind, and broaden your knowledge and skill base.
Once upon a time, before science proved the assumption utterly wrong, people believed that bilingualism and multilingualism caused cognitive impairment and limited an individual’s ability to multitask. Thankfully, modern studies keep giving us concrete proof of how
bilingualism helps us achieve the exact opposite effect and highlights the many cognitive benefits and advantages of learning a foreign language.
In this article, we focus on the brain-related benefits of bilingualism and why Spanish should be your language of choice when learning a language.
Your Brain on Language Learning
Your brain is extraordinary. When you’re working on learning a language, forming expressions, or language comprehension in your native language, various regions of the brain work together to make this possible. And when you speak more than one language, these areas of the brain light up and make your brain healthier. This “brain workout” enhances responses, and allows for better adaptation, and more efficient language and cognitive processes.
Since our brain function starts losing speed, memory, and execution ability at around age 25, it’s evident that learning a new language in adulthood is a brilliant idea. Depending on the language you’re looking to learn, it might keep you occupied for a while. If you’re focusing
on the Spanish language, it should take you about 480 hours to master basic fluency.
What are the Benefits of Learning Spanish as a Second Language?
Although there’s a plethora of benefits tied to language learning and bilingualism, here’s a look at some of the most prominent advantages of learning a new language like Spanish:
Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills
According to a study performed by the National Education Association, bilingual individuals tend to score better in problem-solving and memory skill tests compared to their monolingual counterparts. Bilingualism can also improve listening skills as well as cognitive flexibility, which is commonly referred to as “adaptation”.
Prevention of Cognitive Aging
Scientists have found that learning a new language can help boost grey matter in the brain. This leads to neuron stimulation, which is how new neural pathways are formed in the human brain. With more neural pathways, impulses travel faster and your brain gets used to more
activity. This is what is referred to as “neuroplasticity” and it’s also what allows young children to learn new languages at such an incredible rate. In one study surrounding intelligence tests, it was found that older individuals could outperform their younger selves after a mere one-week intensive language learning course.
Fighting Off Mental Illness by Learning a New Language
In another study performed by Baycrest and York University, there was a significant improvement in cognitive brain function in individuals aged 65 to 75 after exposure to second language learning. These results were measured over 16 weeks where participants attended 30 minutes of language learning classes 5 days a week. The evidence gathered in this study highlights the advantages of foreign language learning and how it can protect us against common mental illnesses such as dementia.
Changes in Neurological Processing and Structure
Studies demonstrate that the advantage of executive functions can be achieved through bilingual communication systems. Various studies used brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the brain areas of bilingual people who must choose between different languages when performing their job. In particular, when bilingual people are asked to switch between English and Spanish, they display an increase in the dorsolateral brain prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain characterized by cognitive ability.
Exposing Yourself to a New Culture
The language of Spanish is an essential cultural tool in the study of cultural traditions and cultural aspects. Culture and language influence the way people think and act. Developing an understanding of Spanish may improve your understanding of others. You can be more effective at your work because of empathy.
Learn Spanish and Boost Your Brain Power
From enhanced memory to increased focus and a reduced risk of mental illness, the benefits of bilingualism are far too great to ignore. Although any foreign language can be beneficial to learn, Spanish is one of your best options. It’ll open new doors of opportunity for you in more ways than you thought possible if you take it on as a second language. The Spanish language is, after all, is the top 1 most interpreted language in America.
When you learn Spanish, you’ll activate regions in your brain that promote intellectual health. But you’ll also be exploring a new and vibrant culture that can help you connect with others, which can be a life-enriching experience that would otherwise have been too far outside your comfort zone.
From a professional standpoint, bilingualism, particularly Spanish proficiency, presents many opportunities in an increasingly interconnected world. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language globally, with a growing influence in business, politics, and international relations. Being bilingual in English and Spanish can provide a competitive edge in the job market, unlocking doors to domestic and international career prospects.
In conclusion, learning Spanish as a second language and embracing bilingualism is a transformative journey that enriches lives in numerous ways. It empowers individuals with cognitive advantages, fosters social connections, deepens cultural understanding, and opens professional opportunities. By embarking on this linguistic adventure, one gains Spanish language skills and broadens their horizons, embracing the richness of human diversity and expanding their worldview. So, let us celebrate the benefits of bilingualism and embrace the power of learning Spanish as a second language.