As the world gets increasingly interconnected, being a multilingual speaker is no longer considered a luxury but is rather becoming a norm. Learning a second language is fun, rewarding, and beneficial to your child’s cognitive development.
Research shows that learning a foreign language can enhance brain functions such as memory, attention, creativity, and problem-solving. Here are the six cognitive benefits of learning a second language for children and how they can help them succeed in school and life.
Increases Brain Size
A study by researchers from Sweden reveals that learning a second language promotes growth in the hippocampus and several regions of the cerebral cortex. These brain parts are responsible for learning, memory formation, and language processing. They also found that the more effort and time the learners invest in studying a new language, the more their brains grow. The brain’s gray matter becomes denser as neural connections strengthen and expand.
Improves Memory Power
Learning a foreign language involves memorizing spellings and words for everyday actions, objects, emotions, and concepts. One must also master grammar rules or structures, intonation and stress patterns, and cultural competencies. This constant mental exercise improves children’s memory skills and makes them more efficient at storing and retrieving information.
Researchers from York University reveal that bilingual children perform better than monolingual children on tasks that involve remembering lists of words or numbers. They suggest that bilinguals have more efficient memory systems that enable them to encode and recall information faster.
Learning a second language can also boost a child’s intelligence quotient (IQ). IQ measures general cognitive abilities such as reasoning, logic, and problem-solving. A study by a British researcher shows that bilingual children scored higher than monolingual children on IQ tests across different age groups. The researchers estimated that learning a second language can increase IQ by an average of 4 points.
Another study by Swiss researchers found that multilingual speakers had higher IQ scores than monolingual ones. The reason is that learning a new language challenges your brain to think in different ways and apply existing knowledge to new situations.
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health reveals that bilinguals are faster and more accurate than monolinguals at switching between tasks that involve different rules or stimuli. Learning a second language helps children develop their multi-tasking skills at a younger age. It enables them to constantly switch between languages and tasks without losing focus, accuracy, or efficiency. This trains their brain to be more flexible and adaptable to changing situations. These abilities help them perform better at tasks that involve switching between stimuli or rules.
Learning a second language can also improve concentration and attention span. Bilinguals must pay attention to subtle differences in sounds, words, meanings, and expressions in different languages. They also have to ignore interference from their other languages when speaking or listening. These abilities help them filter out distractions and focus on relevant information more effectively.
Researchers at Northwestern University found that bilinguals are better than monolinguals at filtering background noise while listening to speech. They suggested that bilinguals have more robust auditory processing systems to tune out irrelevant sounds.
Acquiring a second language helps foster creativity in language use and problem-solving. It allows bilingual or multilingual speakers to access more linguistic resources than monolingual ones. They can:
- use words from different languages interchangeably,
- create new comments by combining elements from foreign languages, or
- translate idioms or metaphors literally.
These practices enhance their fluency, originality, and flexibility in expressing themselves.
Multilingual speakers or people also tend to be more creative in solving problems requiring divergent thinking or multiple solutions. This may be due to their exposure to different perspectives, cultures, and ways of thinking through other languages.
Boost Your Students’ Second Language Learning Today
Learning a second language has many positive effects on children’s cognitive development. It can increase their brain size, memory, IQ, multi-tasking skills, concentration, and creativity. These benefits help them achieve better academic performance, social skills, and career opportunities.
At KidsLipi Inc., we offer educators and tutors a reliable and effective platform to help monitor their students’ progress in learning Indian languages. Our intuitive platform features free pre-built activities for Hindi, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Telugu, and Tamil to help them learn a second language effectively. It allows children to practice words and sentences at home, providing personalized learning experiences based on the school curriculum for the children’s success. Request a demo to join KidsLipi for free and start improving your students’ language learning experience today.