Languages are good for the brainThe benefits of learning a foreign language are not new. Economic, social, educational or cultural arguments abound.

Scientific bodies also carry out regular research on this topic and an article published in The Times in February 2011 caught my eye. According to recent scientific research, bilingualism can slow down the symptoms of ageing by boosting brain performance, and can particularly delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s by four years on average. Bilingual children would also be better at multitasking than their monolingual peers.

We often hear how our ageing population is putting a strain on NHS resources. If these scientific findings are indeed true, wouldn’t this constitute an extra argument for the promotion of language learning? The government is very good at telling us how much fruit, vegetables, salt, sugar, fat and alcohol we should or shouldn’t consume, and how much exercise we should include in our daily routine, so how about guidelines on cognitive aspects of our lives, e.g. how many crosswords and sudokus we do, how many books we read, and how much of our compulsory education we spend on learning foreign languages? Just a thought anyway…

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