Learning Different languages
So, you’re learning Korean, Spanish and French at the same time?
You’re definitely not one to shy away from a challenge.
It doesn’t matter how much you love languages—learning a few at once can be tricky.
Think back to those desperate moments you spent sitting alone in your room and asking your tired self, “what was I thinking? What’s the point of all of this?”
Well, let me help you answer that question.
Turns out, there’s a lot of advantages to learning multiple languages at once.
Here, I plan to demonstrate that doing it is worth every ounce of effort you put into the task. I’ll give you 5 profound benefits that make learning languages cool—and worthwhile for every person on this planet.
1. It’s Good for Your Brain
Did you know that your brain can be structurally changed for the better in just three short months?
That’s right! Swedish and German scientists conducted a study on conscript interpreters—people who deal with multiple languages as part of their daily jobs—and measured the size of each one’s hippocampus and cerebral cortex. They then subjected these interpreters to three months of intensive language studies. Military boot camp style!
After 90 days of intense training, the scientists, donning their spotless lab coats, came in and again measured their subjects’ brains. They discovered that their interpreters’ hippocampal regions, along with three other areas of the cortex, had grown significantly. The cortical areas increased in their thickness, indicating higher fire power for these areas of the brain.
They subjected the children to a battery of mental tasks which measured working memory, executive function, visuospatial span, cognitive quickness and conflict resolution. What they discovered was very telling indeed. Bilingual children outclassed their monolingual counterparts in all test conditions. In short, people who grow up bilingual have faster, more accurate and more robust mental capacities.
If you want your kids to have a head start in life, start them young on the road to learning multiple languages.
The brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the sharper and stronger it gets. Multilingual people have the advantage of having brains that are in good shape. The benefits of switching back and forth between languages is priceless.
They have brains that need to recognize, distinguish and analyze the different linguistic patterns, intonations, vocabulary, grammatical rules and idiomatic expressions of different languages. Because of that need to do more, they have well-oiled neurons which are less prone to the detrimental effects of old age.
2. It Saves Precious Time
Imaging that you’re travelling in South America and get lost while on the way to officiate a wedding. You’re standing at an actual crossroad and looking up at two signs. The left one says “Una Via“ (One Way), the one on the right says, “Camino Cerrado Delante“ (Road Closed Ahead). Can you imagine how much driving time you’d save simply knowing what those signs mean?
How about finding yourself at a French mall and badly needing to go to the restroom because your tummy disagreed with the escargot you had for lunch. Can you imagine looking at foreign signs that would score 70 points in Scrabble? Or imagine finding yourself trying to communicate with French men who fake not knowing any English, desperately gesturing and asking where the rest room is.
Wouldn’t life be much easier if you could communicate while abroad in France or Spain? That way you’d make the most of your 5-day vacation instead of spending half of it looking for some dingy rest room.
If learning a second language is such a time saver, how about learning a third and a fourth language? Imagine how much of the world you could navigate!
That being said, learning more than one language at a time requires careful planning and an awesome strategy.
There are two ways of studying multiple languages.
One way is sequentially and the other is simultaneously. The methods are right in the names. Doing multiple languages at the same time (simultaneously) saves time because, in a way, you’re multitasking. Instead of getting fluent in one language in 1.5 years, you become fluent in 2 languages in 2 years.
3. You Can Take Full Advantage of Similarities and Differences Between Languages
One advantage of learning multiple languages at once is that you can play the languages off of one another. You can take notice of (and better remember) the eccentricities of a language by noting its similarities or differences with another tongue.
An example of this are the many cognates shared by romance languages. Cognates are words in different languages that share similar spelling, meaning and pronunciation. Examples in French – Italian – Spanish are:
French: le bras
Italian: il braccio
Spanish: el brazo
French: la fièvre
Italian: la febbre
Spanish: la fiebre
French: la langue
Italian: la lingua
Spanish: la lengua
Cognates are very useful for 2 major things.
1. Vocabulary building. Let’s say you’re studying French, Italian and Spanish simultaneously. 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