When it comes to being bilingual or multilingual, the benefits seem obvious. When you can speak more than one language, opportunities open up—it gives you an edge in job competition, gives you access to a new culture, expands your creative thinking and problem solving, and makes you generally more open. But there are a few more benefits that might be underlooked by many people, especially those in the realm of cognitive benefits.
1. Heightened neurological function
The cognitive control needed to manage several languages means that the brain must fine tune its functions. As a result, the overall neurological function of the brain is positively affected, and thus can help with various brain-related activities, such as learning, sensory processing, memory, and rational-decision making.
2. Good brain function into old age
As people age, brain function naturally declines. However, those who speak multiple languages are able to maintain a greater brain function into old age compared to their monolinguistic counterparts. This means that there is a lower risk of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In my eyes, this is basically summed up by the saying “use it, don’t lose it!”
3. Helps develop individual wisdom and understanding of life
While everyone is connected to far away people and places thanks to the Internet, people who speak multiple languages are connected in a different and more intimate way. It helps to immerse you in and heighten your understanding of cultures, people’s stories, and ways of being, which contributes to your internal wisdom and also your level of openness, understanding, and flexibility/adaptability.
Overall, the many benefits of learning another language greatly outweigh the few disadvantages. While it may be intimidating at first, as a language is comprised of many aspects and involves a lot of dedication, it is absolutely possible to master a language with patience. To put things into perspective, imagine how you were in high school—you didn’t know half of the things you know now. Now, imagine being a multilingual master looking back on yourself in a few years time. Take it day by day, step by step, and you will gain a new language and reap the benefits of multilingualism.