Second Language Benefits include Delaying the Onset of Alzheimers!

Groundbreaking Research confirms New Benefits to Second Language Acquisition

Many second language benefits are obvious and well-known. The main one being the great satisfaction and utility of being able to converse, or 'operate' at various levels in another language. This opens one's ability to communicate to often huge numbers of other people.

However recent research conducted at Toronto's Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic - SIRMC further confirms what many scientists have already established... and that is that second language acquisition - and its USE - leads to improved mental skills, better 'brain operation' and great mental agility. The research team led by Dr ellen Bialystock of York University, Toronto found that bilingualism can delay the onset of Alzheimers.

Studying 211 Alzheimer's patients at the SIRMC they found that the disease was first reported an average of five years and one month later for the 102 bilingual patients versus the 190 monolingual patients. The bilingual patients were on average four years and four months older than the monolingual.

Dr Bialystok presented their findings to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, and the team believes that bilingualism strengthens the brain's "cognitive reserve" which is its ability to cope under stressful conditions, meaning that bilingual people are better able to cope with the effects of Alzheimer's. The switching between one language and another is a stimulating activity which builds up higher levels of cognitive reserves. It is like a "brain game" or brain exercise, and delivers significant benefits.

Other Second Language Benefits ... more neural pathways!!

Other research shows that bilingual people and children have an improved ability to learn and absorb new information that monolinguals. Each time one learns a new word, phrase or concept new neural pathways are laid out in the brain, boosting its overall capacity with every new concept.

So ... another great reason to get learning a new language or three!! If you are not already doing so - take advantage of the second language benefits of better brain power and mental agility ... get language learning now. Keep learning, practising and speaking your second language skills.

Adapted from a report by Mark Henderson in The Times, 19 February, 2011.

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