Connect with us

6 Overlooked Health Benefits Of Being Multilingual

General Health

6 Overlooked Health Benefits Of Being Multilingual

Image Source: pathdoc / Shutterstock

6 Overlooked Health Benefits Of Being Multilingual

The United States is a melting pot, with individuals relocating from all corners of the globe. Coming into contact with people from different continents offers an opportunity to pick up new languages. Many parents introduce their children to other languages at a young age for educational reasons. However, did you know that being multilingual also brings health advantages? These six points illustrate how being multilingual benefits your brain.

1. Lowering The Risk Of Dementia

Dementia impacts millions of Americans each year. Individuals with dementia struggle with memory recall and decision-making. While dementia typically affects older people, it can also manifest in younger individuals. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of dementia cases is expected to nearly triple by 2060. A small but significant way to potentially reduce the risk of dementia is through multilingualism.

Being proficient in three or more languages is a great mental exercise. A recent study conducted at the University of Waterloo established a link between multilingualism and a decreased risk of dementia. The study focused on nuns aged 75 and above.

The research analyzed the likelihood of dementia among the participants and recorded the number of languages they spoke. The findings revealed that women who spoke four or more languages had a notably lower risk of dementia compared to monolingual women.

2. Decreasing The Risk Of Alzheimer’s

Dementia encompasses various conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 6.5 million Americans. However, multilingualism offers hope by potentially reducing the risk.

Research from the University of Toronto’s departments of neuroscience and physiology delved into how multilingualism impacts neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Utilizing empirical data from multiple sources, the study investigated the effects of multilingualism on Alzheimer’s onset.

The study concluded that multilingualism can help stave off brain degeneration and boost cognitive resilience. Additionally, the research indicates that multilingualism is more effective than bilingualism in preventing Alzheimer’s onset.

3. Alleviating Stress And Anxiety

Each day, various factors can contribute to stress levels. Whether it’s work, school, or other life aspects, stress can be a constant companion. For college students, the pressure to graduate by completing a set number of credit hours can be overwhelming. Some students leverage their multilingual skills to earn college credit by testing out of classes, thereby saving time, money, and reducing stress.

Multilingualism also benefits those studying foreign languages by positively impacting their stress levels. Learning a new language can be a challenging experience, eliciting both positive and negative emotions. A study in the European Journal of Applied Linguistics explored the connection between multilingualism, enjoyment, and anxiety in language learning. The results revealed a significant correlation indicating that multilingualism leads to increased enjoyment and reduced stress, underscoring the advantages of learning multiple languages.

4. Fostering Creativity

Creativity underpins daily activities, propelling passions and innovation. From problem-solving at work to discovering medical breakthroughs, creativity is crucial. Engaging in multilingualism can enhance creativity and stimulate cognitive activity. Experts from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, investigated the relationship between multilingualism and creativity.

The study explored various factors such as multilingualism, travel experiences, and cultural immersion, and their impact on creative potential, interests, and activities. Ultimately, the research identified a positive correlation between creativity and multilingualism, highlighting how multilingualism and deep cultural engagement are strong predictors of creative thinking.

5. Enhancing Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is essential at all stages of life, enabling better decision-making and fostering creativity. In numerous professions, critical thinking is vital for problem-solving and innovation. By cultivating critical thinking skills, individuals can broaden their perspectives and become more well-rounded. Multilingualism serves as a tool to expand cognitive abilities and stimulate critical thought.

In their book “Postmonolingual Critical Thinking,” Michael Singh and Si Yi Lu challenge the dominance of academic English in post-secondary education internationalization. They advocate for harnessing students’ multilingual capabilities to enhance critical thinking and foster innovative research solutions, suggesting that multilingualism can empower students to think critically and produce breakthroughs.

6. Facilitating Stroke Recovery

Strokes are a leading cause of death in the US, affecting nearly 800,000 individuals annually, with approximately 160,000 resulting in fatalities. Survivors may experience paralysis and other impairments, including challenges with cognitive functions and vision. Ischemic strokes, caused by arterial blockages cutting off blood flow to the brain, are a common type of stroke.

A study published in The Egyptian Journal of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neurosurgery explored the positive impact of multilingualism on stroke recovery. The researchers analyzed a trilingual woman proficient in French, English, and Arabic. The subject’s ability to switch between languages unknowingly aided in overcoming language difficulties post-stroke. The study suggests that cognitive reserve and multilingualism may play a role in aiding post-stroke aphasia recovery.

Multilingualism Enhances Brain Health

Learning a new language is akin to unlocking new dimensions. Whether it’s Spanish, Japanese, Swahili, or other languages, delving into multiple languages broadens your understanding of diverse cultures and enriches your brain. These six health benefits underscore the importance of embracing language learning for yourself, your children, and your peers.

More in General Health



To Top