Cool news out of Sweden! Docs have proved that language learning makes the brain grow.
This is what happened. At the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy in Uppsala, young Swedes get intensive full-time language training for 13 months. Researchers at Lund University did a study to see how such an environment may affect the human brain.
To do that, they gave the recruits an MRI brain scan before the program began. As a control group, they scanned the brains of medical students working hard, but not studying languages. After three months, both groups got a second MRI scan. The brains of the control group were the same. In the language students, however, the hippocampus and three areas of the cerebral cortex were measurably more developed. Pretty cool. You can read about it here.
In a similar way, previous research has shown that Alzheimer’s disease has a later onset in bilingual or multilingual groups. Wrote Johan Mårtensson of Lund University: “Even if we cannot compare three months of intensive language study with a lifetime of being bilingual, there is a lot to suggest that learning languages is a good way to keep the brain in shape.”
Next time you forget your keys or your shopping list, pick up a language book while you’re out.
Free Book Friday preview…
Basic Spoken Chinese by Cornelius “Neil” Kubler is being touted as the Next Big Thing in learning Chinese. Dr. Shengli Feng, formerly of Harvard University and now at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, reviewed it as “one of the best elementary Chinese textbooks, I believe, ever produced in the history of teaching Chinese as a second language.”
We’ll raffle off a free copy of this great new book tomorrow.