Language learning and mental health

If you have the privilege of being bilingual or even polyglot, you are in luck. According to the latest scientific studies, this means that you are up to 5 years more likely to delay mental diseasessuch as Alzheimer's or dementia. This is demonstrated by Dr. Ellen Bialystolk of the University of York in Canada. According to the diagnosis that was made over 4 years to 102 bilingual patients versus 109 monolinguals, and published in the journal Neurology.

It is not a trivial issue, this dementia thing. It is estimated that about 24 million people in the world suffer from a disorder related to mental health, according to the Karolinska Institutet Medical University in Sweden.

It is evidence that knowing more than one language allows us to travel more easily, without the need for the not always perfect Google Translate. I remember a friend of mine bought a translator from Amazon and it gave him more trouble than understanding in the dark streets of Tokyo. In addition to this, mastering languages allows us watch movies without subtitles, know a world different from ours. All of this shows that your brain looks and works differently compared to your monolingual friends.

As Mia Macnully explains very well in a didactic video at TED. Knowing a language requires four skills: active skills, speaking and writing, and two passive skills, listening and reading. According to her, there are 3 types of bilingualism:

  1. Simultaneous: You learn two languages at the same time. This is the case of some regions of Spain where Spanish is combined with learning Galician, Basque and Catalan. Children learn from an early age that there are two ways (or more, in the case of those studying English or any other foreign language) to say, for example, apple.
  2. Consecutive: one language is known first as mother tongue and then the second is studied at school.
  3. Of adulthood: Many adults need out of necessity and work to learn new languages to improve their professional careers.

According to recent scientific studies, the brain is made up of two hemispheres. The left is dominant, analytical and houses the logical processes. The law manages more emotional and social processes. I guess you have ever wondered: why do children learn faster than adults and have no problem learning two or three languages simultaneously?

It seems that children have a brain plasticity that allows them to use both more effectively. In adults this is not the case, but despite this, it has been shown that studying generates a greater density of gray matter and more mental activity.

Today, thanks to new technologies and the internet, we have great tools to learn for ourselves everything we want. There are no more excuses. In addition, learning languages will allow us meet people from other cultures, share new experiences and continue enjoying the exciting world of knowledge.

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