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Can learning a language make you more intelligent?

Sunday, 22 January 2017
Learning a language can have a profound effect on your brain, making you smarter. Learning a language can have a profound effect on your brain, making you smarter. This image by pixabay.com is licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license

Learning a language can have a profound effect on your brain, making you smarter. Find out how in this graded reader at a pre-intermediate level.

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Reading comprehension - Pre-Intermediate Level

Congratulations! If you are already learning English as a foreign language, you have a chance to increase your memory, your attention and even your ability to perform tasks.  This is because both language systems are active in your brain even when you are only using one language.  This gives the mind a special workout which makes its 'mental muscles' stronger.  Recent  research shows that bilinguals (people who speak two languages) are often better at solving mental puzzles or problems.  Language learning does this by training you to stay focused and to direct your attention to difficult tasks when needed.  In fact, students who study a language for more than 4 years generally outperform their classmates.  In addition,  language learning also gives you plenty of practice in multi-tasking because you need to hold information in the brain throughout a series of processes.  This is  rather like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.

A further important mental benefit of learning another language is that it helps to protect you from the start of dementia and the other problems of Alzheimer's disease.  The higher your language level, the longer your brain stays healthy.  Also, research shows that people who speak at least 2 languages are four times less likely to have memory loss.  In addition, language learning also helps to create confidence in your abilities.  In a study, 95% of those asked thought that learning a second language leads to increased brain power.

So, it seems that if you want to increase your brain function and maintain a healthy, active mind, it is going to be a good plan to increase the level of your language learning and the number of languages you speak.  At the same time, you are also giving yourself the tools to communicate with a wider range of people  and the opportunity to play a part in an increasingly globalised world.

Can learning a language make you more intelligent? - Comprehension questions

1.  Who are best at solving mental puzzles?

     (a)  Bilinguals

     (b)  Monolinguals

2.  What illness is often prevented by learning languages?

3.  What does research tell us about people who speak at least 2 languages?

4.  What was the percentage of people who thought that learning a second language helps improve the functioning of the brain.
 Answer:  95%

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published in Graded Reading 2017
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Last modified on Wednesday, 14 February 2018 11:48

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