In today’s globalized world, more and more people know two (or more) languages. There are many benefits of learning a second language, from knowing one’s heritage to greater career prospects, and a standout benefit of the immense health benefits on the brain. While it is ideal to start learning a language as young as possible, you can learn a second language at any age and earn its many benefits. If you’re curious about your brain’s ability to handle linguistic challenges, take an IQ test. As you consider diving into a new language as an adult, here’s a guide to steer your journey.
How to learn a second language as an adult
Establish your ‘why’
Learning a second language takes time and effort, so honing in on the reason why you are doing it will help to stay committed. Perhaps your reason is you want to be able to communicate with your grandparents and be more connected to your heritage, or perhaps you are aiming for a new promotion, and knowing a specific language would be helpful. Whatever your reason may be, know it and keep it in mind as you move forward with your language-learning journey.
Make it fun
When you are learning a language you will be more motivated, retain more information, and make more of an effort if the actual process is fun. So incorporate learning methods that you enjoy and be kind to yourself as you learn. Everyone makes mistakes when they learning a new language, so expect to make mistakes and keep a positive attitude!
Download a language app for your smartphone
You can learn effectively on the go with a language app for your smartphone. There’s an app for everything it seems these days, and language learning is one of those things! While traditional language learning methods required in-class learning environment, a language app makes it easy to practice at your own pace and hold yourself accountable. For example, the app Babbel breaks language learning into bite-size chunks so you can follow guided lessons anywhere, anytime.
Attend language meetups
While reading is essential to learning a language, it is also crucial to listen and talk. Attend language meetups so you can engage in conversation and use your language skills! It is also a fun way you can meet other people who are learning the language or are native in the language you are learning.
Don’t spend all your time focusing on grammar
While grammar is essential to learn, it can be tempting to spend all your learning time pouring over grammar textbooks. The way you’ll retain and learn the most is by repetition and practice, so learn the rules but then make a conscious effort to use them.
Health benefits learning a second language has on the brain
Prevents the onset of dementia
Language learning keeps your brain healthy for longer and helps to prevent the onset of dementia. As a result of repeated brain exercise from language learning, this helps to keep your brain sharper and healthier than someone who speaks one language.
There’s a lot to remember with learning a new language, from vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, sentence structure, and more. The more you require your brain to remember information and give it an exercise, the more you improve your memory.
It takes creativity to know a second language, as you come up with creative ways to fill in gaps of a sentence you may not know how to completely say or new ways to use your language skills. Overall, learning a language requires creativity and this has a great effect on your brain. Let your creativity flow and use it in other aspects of your life as well to reap the benefits.
Various studies have showed that bilinguals and multilinguals are in fact more creative than monolinguals.
Increases attention span
It takes significant focus to learn a new language, and an increased attention span is a major benefit of learning a new language. When you are listening, reading, writing, and speaking, it requires a language learner to be present and focused in order to ensure proper comprehension.
Improves decision-making and ability to multitask
The brain is required to multitask when switching from one language to another. The greater your language skills, the more adept you are at switching and making decisions as you go. These are two skills that you gain in your language learning process that you will see applied to other areas of your life, as well.
Helps improve your first language
While some may think that learning a second language can affect your first language skills, it is actually the opposite! Learning a new language requires you to focus on grammar, conjugation, sentence structure and so much more and this focus will naturally relay into your first language skills as well.
Aside from the health benefits of learning a second language, it also enriches you as a person and gives you the opportunity to come in contact with another culture.
Written by Emily Jones.