Cross-Train Your Brain!
What could you possibly say to convince me to take a language class now?
Why study a foreign language? English is already the international language of business, isn’t it? Plus, I’m no good at studying languages. Why risk my GPA and take a class that I don’t need for my major?
Well here’s the thing, learning a foreign language has been shown to be really good for you in ways unrelated to the ability to speak another language, even for those who learn a second language, or attempt to learn a second language, in adulthood.
Wish you were a little smarter?
A study conducted in Edinburgh suggests that learning a second language, even in adulthood, improves cognition.
In a study of 853 participants, first tested for intelligence in 1947 and retested between 2008 and 2010, bilinguals, regardless of when they learned a second language, performed better than their peers, particularly in measures of general intelligence and reading ability.
Want a bigger brain?
A Swedish study of adult language learners found that three months of intensive language learning in adulthood led to significant increases in the size of the hippocampus, a structure in the brain involved in learning new material and spatial navigation. Interestingly, participants who struggled to learn the language exhibited growth in the motor-related regions of the brain located in the middle frontal gyrus. The results of the language learners were compared to data collected from medical and cognitive science students who were also working intensively for the same period of time but did not exhibit these changes in brain size after three months. 
Have a hard time making decisions?
A study of 700 participants on problem solving in different contexts demonstrated that familiarity with foreign language leads to a reduction of heuristic biases, or judgments based on personal history, in decision-making across a range of situations.
Worried about getting older?
A study of 648 patients suffering from dementia demonstrated that on average bilingual patients developed dementia 4.5 years later than monolingual patients. This study also demonstrated that, in terms of dementia onset, level of education and intelligence was less important than the ability to speak a second language. This finding even held for participants who are illiterate but bilingual.
This compilation of links was made by Kokila Mendis of the Center for European Studies, in connection with the Swipe Right For Languages event in March 2016.
Swipe Right for Languages, tomorrow, March 15 Wednesday, in Turlington 1317 11.30am to 5.30pm!
Language Learning Lab
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