General

Long time no post

Recently I signed up on Facebook to the site Translating for Europe. Although I’m currently working in secondary education, it’s always good to keep up with languages and translation, when you’re no longer in an actively ‘foreign’ environment.

I would encourage anyone interested in translation or languages to subscribe to their page.

On their page, I came across this link to a BBC News video on  the advantages of being Bilingual.

As a native English speaker, the impetus to learn another language can sometimes be hard to find.

I am currently working an secondary school as a learning support assistant, and most of the classes I work in are Spanish language classes for 12-13 year olds. For some of the children I work with, getting to grips with a foreign language is especially hard, because they struggle with their native English. However, since none of the children in the class are Spanish native speakers, they’re all pretty much on an even playing field when it come to trying the learn the basics. Although there are others who maybe learn quicker than them, they do not possess more language knowledge.

One child, who is bilingual, probably struggles with some aspects of normal education, however in a Spanish speaking assessment, he achieved a much higher grade than more academically able students.

Scientific studies suggest that bilingualism, either by birth/ necessity of living in another country or through learning, can increase the brain’s ability to focus, multitask and aid memory.  Studies have also concluded that bilingual children develop empathy at a younger age. It is possible that empathy linked to bilingualism could help children in the autistic spectrum.

Whilst language learning is not limited to age, the benefits of learning languages at a young age are well known. The links forged in the brain due to language learning have been proven to assist Stroke patients in recovery. Bilingual patients are twice as likely to not have cognitive impairments in comparison to monolingual patients.

Being able to speak another language involves changing and switching, which strengthens connections in the brain. Continually learning languages or music, even in later life, can give the brain some protection from brain trauma such as strokes or even illness such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Although the accumulative effects of language learning provide the best protection,  making the effort to learn that 15 minutes a day of French/German/Spanish/ Italian etc.  really could make all the difference in later life.

I hope you’ve had a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas–guten Rutsch und alles Gute für 2016.

Alex

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