SSome students embrace foreign language lessons, while others may question their value. Those in the latter camp might be surprised to learn how much they benefit from studying a foreign language.
Foreign languages and long-term cognitive health
Dementia may not be the primary concern of school-aged youth, but their foreign language course could significantly delay its onset. A 2010 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology found that bilingual patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease reported symptom onset 5.1 years later than monolingual patients.
The study authors concluded that lifelong bilingualism confers protection against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, underscoring the value of learning a foreign language as a young person and maintaining those skills. knowledge throughout adulthood.
and attention span
A recent Microsoft study found that the average attention span is now eight seconds, which marks a significant drop since 2000, when the average attention span was 12 seconds. The researchers behind the report suggest that the prevalence of screens, particularly the use of multiple screens at once, has led to this decline. But bilingual people may be able to counter this tendency. Researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham suggest that bilingualism may lead to better sustained attention and attentional tracking, improving students’ ability to stay focused and block out distractions.
Most adults probably don’t need to be reminded that today’s world is one that requires the ability to multitask. Learning a foreign language can make it easier to navigate this world. A 2012 study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that bilingual children had a greater ability to multitask than monolingual children.
The NIH study used a switching task to assess monolingual and bilingual children’s ability to pay attention, plan, organize, and strategize. Bilingual children were quicker to change than their monolingual counterparts, which may prepare them to do better in a world that increasingly values the ability to multitask.