An explanation of the benefits of learning new and different languages and how polyglots/multilingual individuals' brains have developed.
why is it beneficial to learn different languages?
Learning languages can stimulate brain power; improves multi-tasking and memory; stalls the onset of dementia (according to studies); teaches critical thinking and drastically improves decision-making abilities; enhances greatly performance in other academic areas; it makes a person more open to other cultures; expands career potential; and many more.
Polyglots see the world from different vantage points, and have better developed social, cultural and personal skills and awareness. This gives them a professional competitive edge over others.
The discipline that is developed in studying an unknown subject area molds polyglots to become more perceptive, thus, learning to be critical-thinkers. The memory is strengthened because the brain has built its information associative ability with mnemonics and can retain information better. Hence, multilingual people have more exercised brains that are quicker in recalling names, directions, shopping lists.
A foreign language is an entirely new system with distinct rules, etymology, meanings, and many complexities. As the brain works to process meanings and makes full use of this new ‘database’ to express ideas, it perfects skills on reading, negotiating, and problem-solving. Polyglots are proficient at ‘jumping’ from one tongue to another- an entirely different language mechanics, which is a very distracting and demanding work, not only for the tongue and language brain faculties, but for the brain as a whole. Polyglots that have developed this skill fully, are exceedingly proficient multi-taskers and make very negligible errors when juggling various activities.
Apart from normal rules and vocabulary of each language learnt by polyglots, there are nuances and vernacular expressions that polyglots judge frequently for appropriateness and hidden meanings. Decision-making becomes highly developed and discriminating. Studies demonstrate that multilingual students achieve higher grades on standardised exams when compared to monolingual students, and an increased IQ. Learning new languages is best introduced at the earliest age possible.
M Faust (2011), The Handbook of the Neuropsychology of Language, Vol 12, John Wiley & Sons