Sunday, March 30, 2014
The research also found that “children who study a foreign language, even when this second language study takes time away from the study of mathematics, outperform students who do not study a foreign language and have more mathematical instruction during the school day.” Learning a second language “is an exercise in cognitive problem solving” and is “directly transferable to the area of mathematical skill development.” What’s more, speaking and writing in a second language requires learning multiple ways to express an idea, which in turn improves people’s ability to communicate more effectively in their native language.
Challenging the brain to memorize and negotiate the meaning of new words, symbols and rules strengthens “mental muscles.” Perception also increases as the brain learns to focus on important information, while excluding what’s irrelevant. According to a recent study in the journal “Neurology” written by Dr. Thomas Bak, being bilingual is an “effective type of mental training” that keeps the brain “nimble” and may delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s by up to six years.
The incentives to learn a second language are compelling. Chris Thomas, manager of GE’s Commercial Leadership Program, says that job applicants who speak more than one language “are attractive and more marketable. There’s a growing need to understand and relate to customers and partners in a language that they are comfortable speaking.”