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Yet another benefit of being multilingual: Staving off dementia

Over a half of adults (53% to be precise) regret not having made the most of studying languages when they had the chance. At Global Voices, we know that becoming multilingual can help businesses thrive in a foreign country. However, studies have found that learning a foreign language can also be beneficial for your mental health.

It seems there’s never been a better time to dust the cobwebs off the French, Spanish or Italian dictionaries you’ve kept since you were at school.

Language skills give you a better chance against Alzheimer’s and dementia

Whilst it may not completely protect you from brain disease, being bilingual can certainly help to extend your time without it. Researchers from Ghent University found that for adults who only know one language, the first signs of dementia on average are around the age of 73. Whereas, for those who speak two or more languages, dementia sets in on average at least four years later.

Even if you haven’t spoken in a foreign tongue since A-Levels, people who begin their language studies as adults can still reap the rewards of becoming multilingual.

How languages help fight brain disease

Grey matter is a major component of the central nervous system which controls your muscles and sensory perceptions. When you know more than one language, your brain contains a higher density of grey matter where most of your neurons and synapses are.

Engaging the mind in a second language generates more activity in certain regions of the brain.
This constant swapping of languages is like a workout for the brain as it exercises the grey cells and keeps them from degenerating.

This ultimately slows down cognitive aging and contributes to fighting against neuropathological damage in the brain.

Other advantages of being bilingual

While learning more than one language won’t guarantee you a career in theoretical physics, it can go a long way to improving your mental skills generally. In fact, speaking a foreign language improves your brain’s capacity to function.

Not only does it help you to negotiate meaning in that language but it will also benefit you when you’re met with problem-solving tasks. Not that the benefits of learning a foreign language are confined to your health, it can help your career too.

Multilingual people are able to communicate and interact within multiple communities. Potential employers consider this a valuable asset in an employee’s skill set, as they’re able to connect with a broader range of people.

The same goes for businesses. Just as employers love multilingual employees, customers love multilingual businesses. Reaching and communicating with multilingual customers is vital if a company wants to trade internationally. Not only can multilingual help improve people’s health, it can help improve the health of businesses too. Find out more about how we can help your business become multilingual here.

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