Second Language = Sharper Intellect? - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Second Language = Sharper Intellect?

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We've long known that there are benefits to learning a second language but an intriguing new study looked at exactly how becoming bilingual may really have an impact later in life.

Learning a language really is the gift you keep on giving your self -- or should I say, your brain. This study says that second language leads to sharper intellect.

An article describing this a new study was just published in Annals of Neurology and it says, researchers first gave an intelligence test to over 800 eleven-year-olds in the year 1947. All were born or lived near Edinburgh, Scotland. The same group was then retested over 60 years later, between the years 2008 to 2010.

The researchers found that the people who had learned a second language performed significantly better at cognitive abilities, like better memory, had greater general intelligence, and a higher reading level than those who only spoke their native language.

And this is perhaps most interesting. The results showed you didn't have to learn an extra language at a young age or be completely fluent.   The same benefits were seen in people even if they started learning that second language much later in life or only had a conversational level of fluency.

Researchers say someone only had to know enough vocabulary to have a simple conversation to see the benefits.

The researchers believe that learning new languages -- outside of your native language -- activates neurons in the front of the brain, the area responsible for reasoning and processing information.   So they say that by adding those language skills, we may be tapping into that part of the brain and giving it a workout.

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