Why knowing multiple languages is a good thing

Knowing more than one language does not only look good on your resume and make your travelling easier for you. It also affects brain and memory development and even enhances the knowledge of your native language.

Multitasking skills

When faced with a situation that requires you to switch between two languages, you are actually switching between two different systems. Those who often find themselves doing just that find it easier to go with the flow and can eventually learn to perform multiple tasks at once without losing the primary focus.

Memory enhancement

Many of those who teach compare the brain with muscles, which need exercise to get stronger. By learning a language, you actually train your brain, as learning any language includes memorising words and learning rules. Learning and memorising lists and sequences also enhance the memory, which is why those who speak more than one language are better at memorising shopping lists, names and instructions than those who speak only one tongue.

Greater precision skills

Those who speak more than one language are often more precise in their work, while also excelling in the ability to tell apart the more important and the less important information. The language skills can be improved by reading books and newspapers in the foreign language, which will improve the ability to recognise which pieces of information are more useful than the others.

Improved native language skills

Whether studied through a language course or self-taught through textbooks or other sources, learning any new language is systematic. By learning a new language system, you automatically link it to the native language system, which makes you (sub-)consciously compare the two and learn more about the language structure and syntax of both tongues.

To sum up, research[1] has shown that learning and mastering more than one language will improve the individual’s cognition. The benefits of knowing and using multiple languages are best developed in young people, who are often more susceptible to learning new languages and are faster to acquire knowledge in them. However, this does not mean that adults cannot develop the same level of cognition as young people.

How many languages can you speak?

[1] http://news.psu.edu/story/160653/2011/02/18/juggling-languages-can-build-better-brains

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