Many of my maternal grandmother’s favorite stories to tell about me focus on how I “used to be so good at taking in Spanish.” When I was a toddler, she lived with us and spent a lot of time babysitting me. In that time, she would teach me how to count in Spanish and she was so amazed at how fast I was able to pick it up. She would say “Uno,” then I would follow with “Dos,” so she’d continue with “Tres” and I’d say “Cuatro,” and so on and so forth. My grandmother, who is Hispanic and grew up with Spanish as her first language, says that after she came back from a long trip away from me it was as if I had forgotten everything. Or, at the very least, I no longer had any interest in learning Spanish.
I’ve made numerous attempts to learn the language since then. I’ve taken Spanish classes at school as electives, downloaded apps to learn a few words here and there, I even asked for the full Rosetta Stone Spanish set one Christmas not too long ago; the box still sits in my closet, unopened. I still would love to learn Spanish, among other languages, it’s just as I get older, the task becomes more and more daunting. Though it may get harder to learn a new language as you age, the benefits remain the same. Not only does it enable you to communicate with more people, learning and speaking a foreign language can also improve brain function. By challenging your brain to recognize the words, their meaning, and syntax, you’re also enhancing your skill of being able to problem-solve.
Other benefits include the improvement of memory, better multi-tasking skills, and even the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s a great skill to add to your resume and learning a new language can actually improve your English as it makes you focus more on the mechanics of a language.Studies have found that the brains of bilingual people operate differently than from those of single language speakers. They are more alert and better at decision making. Another interesting benefit is that learning a second language can also give you more self-confidence and make you more self-aware.
Though I haven’t yet mastered a second language, it’s still something I can accomplish. All I have to do is open the box.