People learn a language for all sorts of reasons whether as a passion or as a career asset. But do you know that learning a new language can give you added cognitive benefits? Look forward to reading this article to know what kind of cognitive benefits language-learning can give you.
As a treat, you’ll also be inundated with career options open to people with advanced language skills, specifically in professional translation services and/or interpretation services. But whether as a language professional or language learner, you should always strive to keep your language skills fresh for you to fully reap the cognitive benefits in learning and practicing a language.
Language Learning Leads to Enriched Creativity
Learning and practicing a new language is an endeavor that requires a creative mindset. Every language has its own ways of expression unique to its native speaker’s culture and society.
This means language-learners have to be linguistically creative to find new ways of expressing themselves in their new language. The result? They tend to be more creative in many aspects of their life, be it at the workplace or other creative pursuits.
Speaking of creative pursuits, language-learning inherently involves learning the culture of your language’s native speakers. You will be exposed to new ways of living, cuisine, art, music, and other aspects of their culture that are unique from your own. Likewise, you’ll incorporate what you’ve learned and expand your creative thinking.
Bilingual People Have Efficient Cognitive Multitasking Abilities
As with being creative, learning a language naturally improves multitasking abilities. If you’ve already started learning a language, you’re probably familiar with the myriad of prescriptive rules and other technical aspects of the language that you have to juggle just to form a coherent and logical sentence.
From accurate verb conjugations, logical word order, sensical phrasing, to correct declensions of nouns and adjectives, along with the right articles, practicing a new language is indeed tiring work. Of course, we don’t notice this when we use our mother tongue, but we become truly aware of how cognitively tiring practicing a new language is.
This stage in language learning where many beginners decide whether to continue or not. Indeed, the level of difficulty varies between languages as some have a higher learning curve than others at different points of the process. But once you get over the curve, you’ll begin to how cognitive multitasking can spill over to your daily routines and workplace habits.
I’m not saying you’ll turn into a mutant and grow two extra arms. That’s not the kind of multitasking ability we’re talking about it here—not that it’s possible though. But rather, cognitive multitasking abilities such as paying attention to multiple things at a time while being attentive to what’s going on at any given period. Being bilingual means you’re more efficient at it and you’re less likely to tire out mentally from cognitive multitasking.
Language Learning Improves Overall Memory and Intelligence
While learning your new language, you might have been searching for hacks on how to improve your memory, especially since language-learning involves a lot of repetitive practice and memorization. These include grammar exercises, memorizing vocabulary sets, watching and listening to foreign language multimedia, etc.
That’s the technical side in language learning, one that many people loathe. For those who do not have the luxury of immersing themselves in the country where the language is spoken, they have to do with the traditional way of learning a language. A lot of people prefer to break from this routine and rely on the best language learning apps they can get a hold of.
As tedious the technical side of language learning is, it actually does wonders to your brain the more you expose yourself to this kind of cognitive routine. Simply put, it helps increase your memory and overall intelligence. You don’t need to look for ways to increase memory. All you have to do is to give yourself time while learning the language as it’ll come naturally.
There are studies proving that students who can speak another language early on during their youth have shown to exhibit higher test scores than their monolingual peers. They’ve also exhibited greater attention span and advanced reading abilities compared.
You can almost assume that this is to be expected. For all the interested parents out there, it’s best to expose your children to bilingual education early on in their childhood so that in theory, they can be set for life.
Being Bilingual Leads to Better Brain Health and Slows Brain Aging
Since being bilingual inherently incites more brain activity, it has a direct effect on improving brain health and slowing down brain aging. Think of learning and practicing languages as a workout routine. Traditional exercise can tone muscles, sculpt your physique, burn fat, and make you healthier. That principle certainly applies to language-learning.
Since learning a new language gives more avenues for your brain to increase brain activity, the brain will become more sculpted, toned, and healthier. There is more definite evidence now through contemporary studies showing that senior bilingual people have the capacity to delay the onset of degenerative brain diseases, namely Alzheimers and dementia.
These studies have shown that bilingual seniors have exhibited fewer symptoms of cognitive impairment than their monolingual counterparts. Although not meant to completely eliminate the chances of degenerative brain diseases, being bilingual is nonetheless an effective way to keep your brain healthy no matter what age you are.
Career Path as a Language Professional (Translator or Interpreter)
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, people learn languages for different reasons—the cognitive benefits merely as an added bonus. You won’t hear a lot of people admitting that they want to learn a language because they want better memory, creativity, and intelligence.
Some do it as a genuine passion, some as a means of survival, some as a way of accessing lucrative career options. That being said, it’s more than fair to say that language skills are your passport to wider career opportunities. The common career path for people with advanced language skills is in the language service industry as providing professional translation serivices or professional interpreters services.
If you have plans to become a language professional, you’re expected to have advanced language skills. A professional translation agency isn’t looking for bilingual or multilingual people with conversational ability. Professional translators and interpreters strive to continue honing their language skills for them to stay ahead of their peers and keep up with the demands of the language service industry.
You should also decide early on what language pair you want to specialize in. For example, if you want to be a Spanish translator, then naturally your language pair specialization is translating from English to Spanish and Spanish to English.
Final Takeaway on Language Learning
If you’re worried that learning a new language later in life is probably too late, let me tell you that it isn’t! You can definitely start at any time you want while you still can. Don’t be discouraged if you’re thinking about how long does it take to learn a language. Well, to tell you the truth, it’ll take a few years at least.
But the cognitive bonuses you gain along the way, plus the prospect of greater career opportunities is far too attractive to ignore. That doesn’t mean that you should set off to tackle the hardest language to learn to maximize the associated cognitive benefits. It doesn’t work like that.
Nor should you be learning two languages at once. As the old saying goes, if you chase two rabbits at once, you will catch neither. You can reap the cognitive benefits through even just learning one more language. There is nothing wrong with starting with the easiest language to learn for you that fits your personal interests and professional goals.