Benefits Of Language Learning For Older People

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Lorea Lastiri
Lorea Lastiri

Language learning is usually reserved for children, but the truth is that it can be beneficial at any age. Research has shown that people who learn a new language in their 40s and 50s are better protected against dementia.

When you discover an additional language as an adult, you give your brain a good workout and keep it active. It helps slow down the inevitable decline in mental functions related to aging and enhances your attention span.  You can also share thoughts on politics with people who speak the same language. This way, you will feel less isolated when traveling abroad. 

Moreover, you can better understand how other countries think and feel by reading literature written in their native tongue.

A recent study found that learning a second language will improve your memory and ability to concentrate.

This article will emphasize how learning a second language can enhance mental functions and enrich your life. 

Language learning improves brain function

When you try a new language, it strengthens your brain and improves cognitive functioning. You approach things from new angles and learn to think your way around new tasks. In addition, learning a second language might just be one way to prevent or slow down the onset of age-related cognitive issues. 

You should not assume that it is challenging to learn a foreign language if you are a senior citizen. Older people have many advantages when it comes to learning. 

For instance, seniors make great students since they have built good literacy skills. You have already learned how to study effectively and developed an extensive vocabulary.

An estimated 46.8 million people live with dementia around the world! A well-documented study demonstrates a critical connection between language learning and dementia. 

Older adults who are bilingual develop dementia 4.5 years later than those who know only one language. 

In addition, this study reveals that Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed much later in the lives of those seniors who spoke a second language.

Social Benefits of learning a second language

You can extend your social circle by taking language classes where you meet new people and make new friends. The act of speaking to someone in their native tongue forces you to think about how they are processing information and what words mean from their perspective. As a result, it will foster empathy and understanding for individuals who speak different languages than you. 

Learning a language will allow you to communicate more effectively with people who are not fluent in English, leading to better friendships with people from other cultures!  

You join an online community when you sign up for a language learning course. Language apps let you learn at your own pace and help you meet like-minded people. 

Since you share similar interests in learning a language with other candidates, you can strike up a conversation more easily. 

You can also use the Wordeys chrome extension to discover new words and improve your language skills. While you browse on the web, you can translate words into different languages. 

The extension also shows you definitions and the pronunciation in different languages. You can then save the words you learn in a list that you can use to practice the new language.

Learning a new language increases confidence 

As you sign up to learn a new language, you will see that you can do things you considered difficult. Accepting new challenges will, in turn, boost your self-confidence. This newfound confidence will enable you to step out and try new activities.

Whenever you learn a new skill, you move out of your comfort zone and take risks. It’s an essential part of any learning process! All language learners can share tales of the mistakes they made in front of an audience. 

However, the upside to this is the fantastic sense of accomplishment you feel when speaking confidently with someone in their native language.

We think that our ability to learn something new substantially weakens as we get older. However, the brain continues to develop and grow, even into adulthood, due to Neurogenesis. 

Neurogenesis is the process that neural stem cells generate neurons. This procedure helps maintain brain volume and can help repair damage caused by disease or injury to the central nervous system.  

When you learn new things, such as a second language, your self-esteem and ability to indulge in creative tasks grow.

Learning a foreign language makes travel easier and enjoyable

Once you retire, you have more free time for other things you could not do before. So you may use this time to travel and explore new places. Learning a second language can certainly help you feel more comfortable when you are abroad. 

Before retiring, you were mainly busy juggling careers, family responsibilities, and household chores. So you may have put many things on hold.

Suppose you know the basics of another language or even a little more than that. In that case, you can easily ask for directions. Traveling will be much more fun if you can negotiate prices in the markets. 

As you speak to people in their language, you make friends in a new country. You can experience the culture of new communities and enjoy their festivals more as you understand what they are celebrating. 

Moreover, you will be more confident about expressing yourself socially because now there's no barrier between what's on your mind and what comes out of your mouth!

Most importantly, speaking the same language will also make you feel safe as you can always ask for assistance.

Gain a new perspective when you learn a foreign language

Learning a new language can open your eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. It can contradict what you thought was possible and change the way you see life. 

Studying a foreign language will demonstrate how many new things you can still learn. As a result, you can acquire a fresh perspective about the world. Learning another language opens up so many opportunities for people in every country and culture; there are no limits on where learning will take you. 

Learning another language provides more than just the ability to understand different cultures or have conversations with people from all over the globe. 

It also helps broaden your perspective by opening your mind to new ideas and ways of thinking. 

Studying another language is not simply memorizing new vocabulary. 

When you learn a foreign language, you also get to know the lifestyle and customs of the people who speak that language. You understand the significance of everything they do, including their holidays, religious beliefs, food, and art. 

Learning a language improves memory and focus

Attending a  language lesson is like going to a gym. In other words, you exercise your brain as you learn new vocabulary and grammar. As a result, you improve your ability to focus.

Memorizing new words in another language stimulates your mind. As you make an effort to learn, it makes your brain sharper and more alert. Consequently, you will remember why you have opened the fridge. It will also be easier to remember important information and tasks you need to complete. 

If you don’t exercise, your muscles become weak. In the same way, when you stop learning, it weakens the neural connections in your brain, leading to forgetfulness. 

In a nutshell, two essential things are needed to keep your brain healthy: learning and exercise. 

Learning stimulates new neuronal connections in the hippocampus, part of the brain responsible for memory. 

Exercise also helps to stimulate hippocampal health. 

So the more you learn, your brain gets better at retaining information. This is because as we learn new things, our brains form new connections between neurons, which helps us remember what we've learned in the future. 

Your ability to continue forming these connections doesn't depend on how old you are! You're never too old for a "brain workout." 

Will learning a new language enhance switching ability in the elderly?

While learning a new language is fun and beneficial for seniors, it will not help you become more proficient at switching between tasks. But it turns out that you should probably switch back and forth between tasks less often than you think you should. 

As people age, they find it harder to disengage from the second task and return to the first.

But is task switching productive at all? Studies show the opposite.

In the business world, you’re expected to be able to do multiple tasks at once. Individuals who can juggle several duties simultaneously are often considered more valuable employees. 

The success in solving certain types of problems depends on whether you are in a "focused" or "diffuse" state of mind. 

It will be hard to regain your focus if you’re switching between several tasks. So you're less likely to solve other problems if you try to give your attention to them immediately following a switch from focused work.

Since your last task unconsciously primes you, you'll tend to revert automatically to some kind of automatic solution instead of taking the time you need to engage with and come up with a creative idea that works.


Learning a new language is vital for your mental health, especially for seniors. Some of the benefits include improved brain activity, increased socialization, and a sense of accomplishment.

It can be challenging to reach the language learning goals you have set for yourself. 

Try out the Wordeys chrome extension and discover an effective way to learn a foreign language! You can brush up your vocabulary while reading articles as it shows you the translation, definition, synonyms, and even pronunciation. 

Highlight any word or phrase and then add it to Wordeys with just a right-click. After that, you can translate it into your selected language. Now, you are free to practice!

Happy learning!

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