The fascinating reason why people who speak more than one language are smarter than others
If you are about to devote some time to learning Spanish, French or Chinese, the chances are you have no idea just how positive an impact it will have on your mind. This experience can, in fact, fundamentally alter your mental abilities.
A growing number of studies prove that people who speak more than one language have more flexible and more advanced modes of thinking. They are smarter, more creative in problem-solving and more responsive to their own emotions and feelings.
When we can easily talk to foreigners in their native language, we perceive the world in a different way — the way they usually do. We start to see the value and importance of different perspectives. A language comprises a whole world, another universe with its own rules, tenses, colours and perceptions.
People who speak more than one language are able to think much more quickly, and more frequently find the right solutions.
The New York Times has shared several studies conducted on people of all ages — they all have the same view that learning languages can significantly improve brain activity.
A study published by the American National Academy of Sciences researched cognitive gains in seven-month-old bilingual infants. Infants, raised with two languages from birth, develop rapidly, learn better and perfectly adapt to new environments.
Another study of 40 elderly bilingual people showed that bilingualism slows the onset of age-related diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists explain this phenomenon in the following way: since the brain is like a muscle, learning foreign languages and trying to adapt to these new (foreign) cognitive worlds on a daily basis serves as a great form of training which — like a physical workout — boosts the abilities of this muscle. The more you learn, the more flexible your brain becomes, and the longer your mind stays young.
If you can think in two languages, it allows you to "think outside of the box" of your traditional perceptions.
Though it seems like an obvious fact, some studies were conducted on this subject as well. They found that if you have command of a foreign language, you’ll inevitably become a more creative person. Psychology Today found that people who are bilingual can easily respond to challenging tasks and come up with more creative, problem-solving answers.
Medical Daily reports on a study conducted on 120 students, and found that bilinguals are better at tasks that require advanced knowledge of languages, such as syntax, morphology and creative essays. As Dr. Fraser Lauchlan, lead author of the study, stated:
Our study has found that bilingualism can have demonstrable benefits, not only in language but in arithmetic, problem solving and enabling children to think creatively. We also assessed the children’s vocabulary, not so much for their knowledge of words as their UNDERSTANDING of them. It allows them to see and perceive the world more deeply and intuitively.
If children can speak several languages from early childhood, they are better equipped to understand various ideas and concepts, and will have a more streamlined thought process. Speaking two languages is like having two "creative" brain regions. People who do not speak other languages don’t even have access to this additional creativity.
Elite Daily writer Chris Riotta said that although he grew up in a primarily English-speaking household, he could speak Spanish from an early age because his father was from Argentina. It allowed him to learn more about different cultures and various communities, to learn more about himself and to develop his creative skills.
I can express myself better than pretty much everybody.
Speaking two languages helps you understand the human heart.
Bilinguals are the best communicators. Susan Ervin-Tripp, from the University of California’s Psychology Department, has been studying the effects of learning multiple languages on human experience for years. Here is what she says:
When we are in situations demanding a change in language, we may have a strong sense of a shift in values and feelings. Some bilinguals even report they have two personalities which they can switch while thinking.
And she’s right.
While we don’t know whether it’s possible to live two lives at the same time by learning an additional language, we do know that understanding languages can help us to better understand people who are different from ourselves, and to empathise with them.
Language, in its various forms, can be used as a tool to help us understand our core morals, beliefs and even passions.
Language unlocks the door to the heart by allowing us to better understand ourselves. In the end, it truly makes us more confident and liberated.
Anyone who is bilingual already understands the importance and value of this skill. Join their ranks, and you will not regret it!