As we’ve always known, learning a second language is great for your brain. However, its benefits seem to surpass anything we ever hoped for.
New studies show that learning a second language can pump up your brain in ways that seem to delay getting Alzheimer’s disease.
While the study focused primarily on individuals who mastered a second language previously (and have kept their skills sharp – as opposed to forgetting everything you ever learned in your high school Spanish class), experts tell us that even people who take up a second language later in life will benefit.
Naturally, the more proficient you become, the better, but “every little bit helps,” said Ellen Bialystok, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto.
As far as scientists know now, learning a second language does nothing to actually prevent Alzheimer’s disease. But once the disease does begin to rear its ugly head, the mental benefits of tackling a second language cushion the individual so that symptoms don’t become apparent as quickly, Bialystok said.
Even if you take Alzheimer’s out of the picture, learning a second language (or, for that matter, anything NEW and CHALLENGING) stimulates your brain cells in fresh, new ways. The process keeps you sharp, prevents memory loss, and boosts your confidence. The brain loves to be stimulated and challenged and will reward you in many wonderful ways, including strengthening and improving your memory.
Give it a try! Pick a language that interests you and begin your own home study course. Of course, if you have the time and inclination, you could always take a college class. You’ll want a program that provides audio and/or video, so you can hear the words being properly pronounced. Just remember to keep studying and never give up. Your brain will absolutely love the challenge. Think of all you have to gain!