Keeping all your muscles in shape requires a range of different exercises. You need to mix it up between weight training and aerobic workouts to get the best results, and you need to mix up your routines to avoid plateaus.
On top of that, you need to make sure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. You need to feed it the right foods in the right amounts to keep everything strong and functional.
The same applies to exercising and feeding your brain.
And we’re not just being metaphorical, here. When you feed and exercise your brain with something like a second (or third) language, it can have real, physiological effects.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of learning Arabic at any age.
Developing New Skills and Abilities
Language learning starts by developing discipline and motivation. These traits then contribute to learning other important skills, like listening, reading, writing, speaking, and memorizing – all of which can be applied throughout many aspects of your life.
Of course, it’s not just those specific skills that you can expect to develop. Learning a second language teaches you something that many of us forget as we get older. In other words, this is an opportunity to:
Learn to Learn
As we get older, we get set in our ways and stop thinking about how we actually learn new things.
When you dive into a new language – one that may be the structural opposite of your native tongue – it requires the learner to really step back and examine their most effective method of learning. It makes a person identify where they’re lacking sufficient knowledge, or where they could improve the most.
Suddenly, you start finding new ways to memorize new words and grammar. You discover new things about yourself in the process, too, and you can put that knowledge to use in other situations.
And as you make these conscious changes, something in your brain can start to change on its own.
Physiological Brain Changes
A lot of us forget that learning new things – even at an older age – can make physical changes in the brain.
In this case, you can start to develop the “language centers” of the brain, which researchers have identified as being on the left hemisphere.
Let’s be clear about this. Just memorizing a few new words probably won’t have much of an effect on your brain. Just like two or three pushups a month probably won’t give you the biceps you’re hoping for. Instead, research shows that learning a language well can boost the size and activity of language centers of the brain along with the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is important because this is where we form, store, and retrieve memories.
Languages can contribute to more than just memory, though, because that research also suggests that language-learning can boost the brain’s ability to form new connections faster. And it’s even possible that the more languages we learn, the easier it will be in the future to process and hold onto more information.
Benefits for Adults and Children
Learning a new language can have beneficial brain effects at almost any age. While some research does show that multiple languages can be especially productive for younger learners, the impact that it has on the brain can be good for anyone.
For Younger Learners – Children who study a foreign language seem to get a boost in overall cognitive development. They tend to do better on standardized tests, have more self-confidence, and show more creativity.
Many young students also show better listening skills, better memory, and problem solving abilities.
For Adult Learners – Learning another language as an adult seems to help improve cognitive abilities, get better at planning and making decisions, be more perceptive, and empathize with other perspectives or points of view.
Long Term Memory Aid
As you develop your memory through language learning, your larger hippocampus can also contribute to holding onto your memories for a longer time.
Another study found that speaking multiple language might help protect against cognitive decline and dementia. In fact, it seems that the more languages you know, the less likely you are to experience memory loss or other cognitive declines.
It was suggested this is because speaking two languages can contribute to the development of the medial temporal lobes of the brain, which is tied closely to forming new memories.
Is It Worth It?
Learning a language doesn’t come easily to a lot of people, and we understand if they question whether the effort is really worth it.
We have a process that is designed to help learners start speaking Arabic as quickly as possible. And remember, you don’t have to be completely fluent to start experiencing these brain benefits (along with the sense of achievement and cultural enrichment).
You can keep your mind sharp and flexible even by learning a little bit of a new language.
Take a look at Arab Academy’s current classes and curriculums to find out how you can get started.