In the past, people believed that learning more than one language is bad for a child's development and that it can result in a low IQ. Being bilingual (or multilingual) is not widely accepted back then.
However, the world has changed a lot, and knowing more than one language makes a person look more intelligent and creative. It also gives greater opportunities for studying and career prospects abroad. Learning a new language has enabled people to develop several mental abilities that they can use every day.
But more than the prospects of finding a better career and one's social status, learning another language has many mental benefits.
Boosts Cognitive Reserve to Endure Brain Disorders
Everyone has a cognitive reserve when they are born, but this reserve will slowly vary as people grow up. An article in Thrive Global suggests that this cognitive reserve is the mental shield against brain disorders. The higher the cognitive reserve is, the higher chance of enduring more disease before the brain suffers from brain dysfunction.
Moreover, research published in the American Academy of Neurology has shown that bilingual people show symptoms of dementia 5.1 years later than monolingual, and multilingual people have seven-fold protection against the disease. Researchers attribute this increased protection from having a high cognitive reserve.
Improves Working Memory
According to a study, bilingual children outperform monolingual children in terms of metacognitive awareness, problem-solving, flexible thinking, and attention span. Also, it showed that bilingual children have better working memory capacity than their monolingual counterparts.
Learning a new language gives the memory a good workout due to learning the different grammar and sentence structures of each language. That means multilingual children have brains that executed more working memory and are quick to recall facts, directions, and figures, according to Eton Institute.
Enhances the Ability to Focus and Multitask
Multitasking could be stressful especially for people who are not used to doing it. A paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience said that bilingual people are good at multitasking and have more cognitive flexibility. Besides, another research also suggests that these people are less prone to distraction, therefore have more control over their attention span.
Those who developed the ability to think in different languages can become better multitaskers and develop an efficient ability to focus on tasks, making it less stressful for them.
Increases Volume of White Matter
A research paper suggests that bilinguals have higher volumes of white matter than monolinguals. White matter contains communication cables that link neurons from different regions of the brain in order for everything in the body to work harmoniously. Learning another language or two strengthens white matter, which means better neuron connections, faster reaction time, and faster learning. In short, learning a new language makes people smarter.
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