Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Want a bigger brain?

Learn a second language. Researchers in England found that people who learn a second language early had denser grey matter than those who spoke only one language.

"The scans revealed the density of the grey matter in the left inferior parietal cortex of the brain was greater in bilinguals than in those without a second language.

The effect was particularly noticeable in the "early" bilinguals, the findings published in the journal Nature revealed."

The research also concludes that older learners will have more difficulty in learning a second language (that light brain again).

There are other reasons to learn a second (or a third) language. It gives you an insight on how other people think, what they feel, how they look at life. It's hard to hate someone once you understand them. Charlemagne once said: "To know another language is to have a second soul."

2005 has been designated as the Year of Languages in the US. Ironically, when you read the contents of the website, they're talking about people learning English as a language:

"Educators across the country recognize that there has never been a better time to focus public attention on the personal, professional and cultural benefits of gaining proficiency in English as well as other languages.

I'm not sure if this is an indication of the numbers of immigrants to the US who are not learning English, or of the decline of the Americans' proficiency in their own language.

Nervertheless, learning a new language is an exciting, challenging endeavour. I recommend it to anyone who wants to exercise their brain.


Sue Alvarez said...

I was quite interested in reading your blog, particularly the book list. I enjoyed reading books dealing with the 'Merlin' tale - Mary Stewart as well as Stephen King. I tend to look at such stories no differently than the story of Joan of Arc. There is so much about the workings of what we choose to call magic that we do not understand. Is it truly magic or is it that some humans have evolved brains with greater capabilities than we can imagine? Life is weirder than fiction and we will never understand all that is, nor will we see it. We tend to be blind to that which we do not understand. Anyways, bravo on your blog. By the way, does my learning three languages at the same time make me more intelligent than a child reared learning only one?

M. D. Benoit said...

If you like magic, and wish it could be real, then Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell will make you a bit more leery of it. Remember the proverb "be careful what you wish for".

As for learning three languages at the same time, you have a bigger brain than I do. I'm currently learning Italian and keep mixing it with Spanish for the words, and have to translate the structure in French before I can come out with a sentence that makes sense. Sigh.