Should My Child Learn a Second Language?

How Does Learning A Second Language Benefit Your Child’s Brain Development?

By: Anabela Barros, Guest Blogger

Learning a foreign language offers important benefits for your child’s brain development. It helps improve concentration, memory, intelligence and lowers their risk of being diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life.  A language is quite complex, and a second language gives your brain a good workout and makes your brain stronger.

Today, science is catching up with the benefits of learning a foreign language. There was a time when experts believed that raising a child in a bilingual home would stunt his or her intellectual growth. They thought the child’s brain would become confused, and it might contribute to split identities or schizophrenia. But times have changed. Science reveals that learning a foreign language is one of the best ways to improve the intelligence of your child. It will help keep their mind sharp and act as a buffer against brain aging.


There have been several experiments conducted on the subject. The results of these tests are encouraging. They reveale that multilingualism comes with a whole slew of positive benefits. In fact, multi-lingual students tend to score better on standardized tests in math, vocabulary and reading. They are better at remembering sequences or lists. These students are more perceptive to their surroundings. Multi-lingual students concentrate better and weed out misleading information quite effectively compared to students who speak only one language.

There are many ways that learning or speaking a second language may benefit the brain, regardless of your age. People who speak two or more languages have significantly better cognitive abilities than people who speak only one language. In fact, multi-lingual individuals:

. Have a higher general intelligence

. Do not easily fall for marketing hype

. Tend to better understand other’s point of views

. Tend to switch between tasks quickly

. Exhibit mental flexibility

. Have better listening skills

. Are better planners and decision makers

. Are more creative

. Have a better focus, attention span, and concentration


When your child starts learning a foreign language, it increases the size of his or her brain’s language center and hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for forming, retrieving and storing memories. In a Swedish study, young recruits to the military were taught new languages. Scientists measured their brains before and after the language training. MRI brainrosetta-stone-logo scans showed that participants increased the size of their hippocampus after the training. It also helped increase the number of neural pathways between various parts of their brains. In another study, the brains of English speaking students were monitored as they learned the Chinese vocabulary. MRI scans revealed that these students developed more connectivity between parts of their brains.

Besides changes to brain functions, there were also detectable changes to the structure of their brains after six weeks of study. In fact, knowing a foreign language can postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia by at least four to five years. Bilingual individuals who cannot read and write experienced the same benefits against Alzheimer’s and dementia similar to literate bilinguals.

In conclusion, learning a foreign language has numerous benefits to your child’s brain development. It improves concentration, memory, intelligence and a host of other brain functions in the childhood years and throughout life.

Brain Chase offers foreign language as one of our 10 electives. To learn more, visit our website and register for our summer program!


About the Author

Anabela Barros is a professional who runs Nacel London, a popular language immersion program offering students opportunities to live abroad and learn English as a second language. To learn more about these exciting programs, visit Nacel London’s Website.