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How Learning a New Language Can Improve Your Cognition for Better Mental Health

students at foreign language board.

You probably know that speaking at least one foreign language is already a good booster for your career. It helps you connect with more people and keeps you open to various job opportunities abroad.

But did you know that learning a new language can help your mental health?

There’s been some research proving that foreign language positively impacts your cognition, which, in turn, can help you deal with anxiety and depression and has benefits for your overall mental health.

And even though scientists say that the connection between learning a new language and mental health still needs more exploration, the results we already have are quite promising.

So, in what ways does learning a foreign language improve your cognition?

Let’s take a look at some studies.

1. Reducing the Risks of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Disease is known for having detrimental effects on a person’s cognition. This brain condition also causes dementia – the loss of memory and judgment. Both illnesses can’t be cured, but you can prevent them, and learning new languages can play a crucial role.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society of the UK, bilingual brains are more resilient to dementia and Alzheimer’s. The researchers used FGD-PET brain scans of 45 German-Italian speakers and 40 monolingual speakers.

The results were astounding: bilinguals had increased functional connections in the areas of the brain that are responsible for executive control. In other words, the ability of the bilingual brain to switch quickly between several languages made it more flexible.

Isn’t that a great reason to start learning a new language now?

Just one extra language in your possession can make your brain strong, keep your memory functioning, and prevent harmful brain conditions that not only impact your cognition but your mental health as well.

2. Improving Creativity

All of us have felt stuck at some point in our jobs and projects. Sometimes you feel that creativity has been sucked out of you, and nothing can restore it.

Luckily, some studies have shown that learning a new language can boost your creativity. For example, The British Academy reports that learning a foreign language engages an extensive neural network that increases brain flexibility, fuels creativity, and improves cognition.

How does it happen?

Learning a new language is a complex process that isn’t limited to linguistics but also includes various cultural phenomena.

For instance, when you’re learning English, you’re not just doing it mechanically, but rather in connection with the culture. Learning English weather-related proverbs is connected to learning that weather plays a crucial part in an English person’s life.

Thus, learning a foreign language always happens in a cultural context, and it helps open your mind and make you more curious about things. And curiosity is where all the creativity is coming from – it drives you to new discoveries.

3. Alleviating Symptoms of Depression

Much like any other mental health condition, depression has a negative impact on cognition. People who suffer from depression sometimes have a hard time putting their thoughts together, resulting from sleep disturbance, mood swings, and other symptoms.

Can learning a new language benefit people with depression?

Yes, and some stories of people suffering from clinical depression show that. For instance, an article from The Guardian tells of a person learning German to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

In the words of the author, depression makes your world feel small. But learning a foreign language broadens your horizons, as you learn both the language and the culture at the same time. It creates a feeling of belonging.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are multiple ways in which learning a foreign language can improve your cognition and mental health, as a result. But a lot depends on your motivation and the conditions in which you learn the language.

For instance, you can experience low self-esteem or lack of confidence because you’re not showing great results. And, at this point, it’s important for your teacher or tutor to provide support to help you keep going.

Learning a foreign language brings many benefits in the long run, but it’s definitely a process that will have its ups and downs. Focusing on the final result will fuel you with the motivation to keep learning and conquer new heights.



About the Author: Ryan is a passionate writer who likes sharing his thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, he works as a digital marketing specialist at https://preply.com/. He likes everything related to traveling and new countries. 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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1 thoughts on “How Learning a New Language Can Improve Your Cognition for Better Mental Health

  1. Jane Doe says:

    I can endorse this article as correct. Because I have experienced this situation. My native language is Arabic. When I start learning english my brain productivity improves. Even my thoughts were converted into english and as it is an easy language. It saves my time in communication. As major research material is in english. It helps me to understand many things.

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