FFE Magazine

Speaking more than 1 language makes you Smart

4jun learning language



Based in a study published in the Annals of Neurology, most Filipinos are on the right path by learning multiple languages, their mother language and English, at a young age.


Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found out in a study of 853 people across 60 years that people who speak a second language performed better mentally in their later years. To reach their conclusion, the researchers looked at intelligence tests given to 11 years olds in the year 1947 and had these people retested now that they were in their 70s.


The researchers asked if the subjects learned any other languages between the tests and how often they used them.


Around 30% of the subjects said they picked up a second language. These bilingual speakers were also found to have performed significantly better than their predicted baseline mental abilities when they were 11 years old. The bilingual speakers in particular performed well in general intelligence and reading tests.


Here are the other findings:

  • Bilingualism at an early age led to positive results in general intelligence and reading
  • Bilingualism after age 18 led to positive results in general intelligence, processing speed and reading
  • Bilingualism led to positive results in reading
  • Multilingualism (speaking more than two languages) led to positive results in general intelligence, reading and verbal fluency
  • Multilingualism produced stronger results


The researchers concluded that bilingualism is protective versus age-related mental deterioration regardless of a person’s childhood intelligence. Lead researcher Dr Thomas Bak commented ‘Millions of people around the world acquire their second language later in life. Our study shows that bilingualism, even when acquired in adulthood, may benefit the ageing brain.’


The study funded by Age UK is significant because of the timescale. However, it didn’t take into account dementia and wasn’t able to prove that bilingualism can protect against it. Nevertheless, an active mind by language learning and has been proven to lead to improved mental well-being.



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