Hablas español? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Parlez-vous français? As you learn to speak a second language, your brain develops new cognitive skills.
Being fluent in different languages has been shown to improve an individual's concentration, while warding off the onset of dementia, Alzheimer's, and other diseases that cause deterioration.
In most European countries, students begin studying their first foreign language as a compulsory school subject between the ages of six and nine.
By contrast, just nineteen percent of American public school students are enrolled in a foreign language. Despite this, being bilingual in the United States has become increasingly prevalent. The 2011 Language Census states that approximately twenty-one percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home. Three-quarters of those state that they speak the English language "very well," suggesting true bilingualism.
As a parent, if you choose to become fluent in another language, sharing this with your children can help them in their academic achievements. At school, bilingual children have been shown to be less distractive and more focused on assignments and tasks. Indeed, bilingualism strengthens an individual's ability to concentrate by up to twenty percent, especially if they are taught more than one language at an early age.
Bilingual individuals tend to be better at problem-solving, and have better verbal and math skills.
The ability to focus is an important benefit for bilingual adults as well. It derives from the specific use of memory in learning a language. This process helps the brain disregard pointless information.
The left hemisphere of the brain houses language abilities in people. Language is so powerful that it affects the brain's plasticity – and, consequently, its functioning. Studies show that bilingual people have more gray matter in that side of their brain. This is significant, as gray matter is the nervous tissue that possesses information-processing fibers and cells.
Gray matter can be notably denser in people who have learned two languages before they turn five. Denser gray matter is associated with higher intelligence.
And remember - If you already know two languages, it is easier to learn a third!