Benefits of Multilingualism: Healthier Brains

Several studies show the multiple benefits of multilingualism: from better problem solving, to more gray matter, to the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Keep your brain healthy and interconnected by learning languages!

Interview with the expert – Mr. Baldwin, Professor of Modern Languages ​​at LES

What is your relationship with languages?

I speak 5 languages ​​(English, German, Spanish, Russian and French) and I studied German and Russian at Oxford University. I strongly believe that languages ​​open doors to the world and have many benefits for the brain. Today at LES I teach Russian, German and Spanish in secondary school. I´m also a father of five children and with global experiences having lived and traveled in many countries.

What do you think are the main advantages of multilingualism?

It seems to me that there are two main areas of enrichment.

On the one hand, languages ​​open up social and interpersonal interaction with a wider variety of people, allowing for diverse and enriching relationships, as well as immersion in and links with many cultures.

Where and how can multilingualism most influence the success of our community?

It is the best tool for life in a global world: not only communication skills and a good memory, but also relationship building, problem solving, learning in other areas and subjects.

Are there born multilinguals?

As a teacher and a parent, I realize that some people have a natural ability and interest in learning languages. In addition to their language skills, these seem to be connected to other personality traits.

Are there different forms of multilingualism?

Yes, many, depending on how the language was learned (as a mother tongue, by immersion as a result of living in the country, or in the classroom).

Tell us about your life experiences in relation to language?

When I was in the Soviet Union learning Russian… I ended up playing football for the Malian national team because I spoke French. An unexpected twist of knowing several languages!

Another time, completely lost in Bosnia, I was able to communicate with a local in German because I had been a refugee in Germany during the war. Not only did I find my way to Sarajevo, but he pointed me to the best place in Europe for rafting.

“Children learn languages ​​earlier because of the plasticity of their brains.

Knowing more than one language makes your brain healthier, more complex and more active.

“Being bilingual brings remarkable advantages to your brain: higher gray matter density, more activity in certain brain regions and more training throughout the brain’s lifetime can help delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”