A work-out for the mind
Globalization makes language skills a must
Learning a new language is useful for obvious reasons. Increasing the number of people you can communicate with has got to be a good thing, both professionally and personally. In fact, as globalization continues to spread, knowledge of at least one foreign language is quickly becoming a career essential. This is particularly true in Britain, whose trade links with the EU and EEC mean that most companies regularly interact with speakers of another language. The importance of language learning in today’s modern, practical world means that language schools have popped up all over the European community – especially in Britain. As one of the most international cities in the world, whether you’re looking to conquer French, do something like camping Zeeburg in Amsterdam
, get reacquainted with German or learn Spanish London will have a language school to cater to your needs.
But European languages aren’t the only important ones in today’s world. With China’s economy, in particular, growing in leaps and bounds, Mandarin Chinese is quickly becoming the most sought-after language in the world. Mandarin Chinese has a reputation for being difficult, which puts some people off – but what they don’t understand is that the process of language learning has been proven to actually make you cleverer.
Flex that brain!
The benefits of being bilingual are being increasingly recognized by modern science – so much so that it’s now generally accepted that teaching your child two languages should always be done if possible. This doesn’t just apply to cultural awareness and communication: studying a second language also improves children’s logical reasoning and mathematical skills, and boosts exam results. It’s not just children who benefit – at every stage of life, people who are bilingual get better scores in cognitive tests designed to measure the brain’s reaction.
These improvements are largely due to the activity in the left hemisphere of the brain, which is provoked by language learning. This is the hemisphere that controls logic, numerical ability and musicianship, and giving it a work-out will always pay off in more ways than one.
Because Mandarin Chinese
is harder for English learners than French or Spanish, it’s more of a work-out for the brain. Until you learn it properly a Chinese translator
is your best way to practice. But its differences mean that it actually uses different parts of the brain to English. In a recent study, Chinese researchers had both Chinese- and English-speaking natives solve maths puzzles while hooked up to an MRI brain scanner. Results showed that while English speakers used brain regions involved in word meaning to solve the problems, Chinese speakers used visual and spatial parts of the brain, possibly because written Chinese uses characters based on pictures rather than letters to make up words.
While if you want to learn French London is perfect, you may have to look a little harder for a good Chinese teacher. However, once you’ve found one, you’ll be surprised by how the effort of learning Chinese can exercise your brain and ignite your thinking.