Why Learn A Foreign Language?

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French (general) By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: French » French (general)
Last updated: 07/02/2017
Tags: a better memory for learing, adult learner, adult learning, beginner, good fun

No matter one's age, learning another language is bound to benefit one mentally, psychologically and culturally. It can also be an advantage when competing in the job market, whether national or international. I would say it opens your mind, eyes and heart. You gain another perspective in life and open a door to a world until now didn't know it was there. You have access to different ways of thinking whether that is appreciating jokes, watching a film, cooking, eating, celebrating or socialising. No, translation doesn't always do the job because it will never be the original. It is like listening to a song on CD instead of being in a concert to hear and see the singer performing., watching a tennis match on TV rather than watching it live or buying a postcard instead of actually going to visit the site. In other words remaining monolingual is simply limiting.

Does learning languages make a child smarter? According to ongoing research on the subject it does, no matter your age.

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Dr Thomas Bak of Edinburgh University says:

  • “I think there are three important messages from our study, firstly it is never too late to start a novel mental activity such as learning a new language. Secondly, even a short intensive course can show beneficial effects on some cognitive functions. Thirdly, this effect can be maintained through practice” http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2016/language-learning-aids-attention-study-says 

So, different areas of our brain tat were left unused will become activated and,(despite the possible challenges, just like when we start physically exercising our body) our complex cognitive skills (memory, attention, problem solving etc.) will continue to improve, provided we keep practising.

 Dr Albert Costa, a research professor at Barcelona University says that:

  • “Using two languages seems to have consequences not only for executive functions, but also for other processes. It's like learning to juggle, the idea being that you have to juggle two balls every time you speak.” He has found that these benefits apply to both young adults and the older ones who suffer from Alzheimer. Regular mental exercise and storage of new input is the key to brain health.



Stanislas Dehaene, the Oxford Academic, says that when a child learns a second language his brain will make use of different regions from those involved in using his mother tongue. And learning a foreign language, much like learning to play a musical instrument, does indeed appear to be a good way of exercising one's brain, and keeping it healthy, throughout life. (Brain, a Journal of Neurology, December 1999)

The Latin saying

  • healthy mind in a healthy body” or “Mens sana in corpore sano” that comes from Ancient Greek “"ὁ τὸ μὲν σῶμα ὑγιής, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν εὔπορος, τὴν δὲ φύσιν εὐπαίδευτος"

reminds us that only the combination of a healthy body with a healthy mind would ensure our happiness. Of what use is to spend time and money in our efforts to exercise our body, follow a healthy diet, hydrate our skin, while forgetting to take care of our brain health and the naturally declining down processes of our mind?

We all know how good it feels learning a new skill. This is especially true, if it is a new language that we thought too difficult. Plus, you will be envied by those those who wish to learn a language but don't find the courage to take the plunge.

Language learning is also fun. When you put your words in order to make yourself understood the pleasure you experience is not unlike the one you feel when you resolve a puzzle or a mathematical exercise. I actually think that grammar and syntax are like mathematics; you follow the rules and you obtain the right result.

I have only recently started learning German and my level is not that high but being able to have a conversation with a German speaker makes me happy and proud of myself. I also found that when visiting the country and in need of information or directions, no matter what mistakes I make, a native speaker will appreciate my effort and try is his best to be of help. So, no matter what your level of knowledge is, a conversation in a foreign language will guarantee you some real fun.

Learning a language can also enrich us culturally while making us more sociable and open individuals. So, a new language is good for our mental, intellectual and psychological health. 

Mary Williams A-level French Tutor (Croydon)

About The Author

I am multilingual. My aim is to pass on my enthusiasm and increase the confidence of the learner. The best lesson is the one that makes you forget the time and leaves you with a sense of achievement.

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