Learning the English language is a decision that can have more benefits than you might think. We’ve covered benefits like how it can increases your chances of getting a well-paid job, or how it can improve your world knowledge and even how it can better your cognitive abilities.
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In this article we’ll look at how and what exact cognitive abilities are influenced by the learning of a second language.
In a study conducted on fifth graders from a number of Louisiana schools it was shown that children who took second language courses outperformed children who didn’t in a number of subjects like their native language tests as well as on math and social studies. Another study performed in Kansas reinforces this data, and shows that kindergartners who took on a foreign language were scoring well above the national average in all subjects by the time they were in fifth grade.
The studies show that taking on the extra weight of learning a second language, English in our case, won’t make students lose focus on other subjects but will actually help them increase their grades and understanding of unrelated subjects like math while also giving them an in depth view on a foreign culture.
The same Louisiana study that was conducted on over 13,000 children between third and fifth grade showed that students, regardless of race or gender managed to improve their reading skills. It also showed that children of average or below average intelligence can improve their reading skills by learning a second language.
The bilingual children that took part in the study also had a better memory and had increased listening skills.
But improved academic results aren’t the only benefits learning a second language has.
A number of studies performed in the 80’s also showed how children that learn a second language have a better altogether cognitive process, how they can be more creative than children who only speak their native tongue and that they have an understanding of how the language process works in general, being more likely to use their language understanding to improve their problem solving abilities.
Learning a second language can also influence a child’s self-respect and self-image as children who may not have the best academic results can show that they are successful to their peers and family. It can also give them an incentive to improve their results in other fields and help them get a more fulfilling school experience.
More than increased cognitive abilities, a knowledge of a second language can improve how children relate to foreign cultures. A paper published in the 70’s also showed how children who speak more than one language are more tolerant when it comes to other cultures. As they are immersed in a different culture at a young age, they are naturally less reluctant to embrace difference and tend to look at diversity as a good thing.
Bilingual children are also more likely to succeed regardless of location, and can achieve a level of social, academic and professional success even when they have to live in cultures very different from their own.