If you speak two or more languages, your brain may look different your monolingual friends. Bilingual or multilingual brains actually look denser. It doesn’t necessarily make us more intelligent, but it makes our brains healthier, complex and more actively engaged.

There are subtle differences in effects depending on when the language(s) is learnt. If a new language is learnt as a child, words from both languages are processed simultaneously, producing ‘compound bilingual’ capabilities. This may open the mind to be more flexible. Co-ordinate bilingualism occurs when the language is learnt as a teenager, and subordinate bilingualism happens when an adult learns a new language.

Normally the left side of the brain is associated with analytical and logical thinking, whereas the right side deals with emotional and social elements. Learning a language as a child allows the brain to use both hemispheres to learn, incorporating more aspect of brain function, while learning as an adult uses only the left, as we learn by translating from our native language. At all stages we can become fully fluent and competent, so it is never too late to do yourself a favour and learn a language.

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information sourced from TedEd – Mia Nacamulli (2015)

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