This is a guest post by Lauren Bailey.
You’ve certainly read by now article upon article advising seniors on how to keep their brains and bodies fit. Most of these articles will suggest that you keep yourself active and learn new things as often as you can. While there’s certainly value in learning anything for the sake of learning, there are very specific advantages of learning a new language in retirement. Here are few things to consider:
1. Learning a new language may help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
As noted in this relatively recent New York Times article, the benefits of bilingualism are manifold. For younger people, it helps develop key cognitive processes. For those who are older, knowing two or more languages proficiently can, for rather inexplicable reasons, ward off the onset of symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Since these are the medical ailments very common (and very difficult to deal with) among the elderly population, learning a new language takes on a profound importance as you grow older.
2. Learning a new language can help you build confidence in your ability to learn.
The standard thinking for many decades in brain science was that your ability to learn something weakens dramatically as you get older. That’s why parents always want to get their very young children piano or violin lessons. If they wait just a few years more, they reason, it will be too late.
Now, neuroscience has discovered a peculiar phenomenon called neurogenesis. Basically, the brain does not stop growing and developing after a certain point. Neurogenesis (the spontaneous growing of new brain cells) can occur at any point in your life. But neurogenesis can be spurred on by various activities, a key activity being learning new things like a second or third language. When you learn something new, your confidence and ability to learn something else grows, too.
3. Learning a new language can be useful if you enjoy traveling in retirement.
Now that you are retired, you finally have the time to really enjoy traveling and adventuring. If you’re interested in learning a new language but don’t know which one, it’s really best to pick a language that you have the possibility of using in an immersed environment. Say you intend to spend lots of time traveling through Central and South America. Spanish would be the obvious choice. If you decide on Europe, French and German are probably the most widely spoken languages after English in the Continent. Seen in this light, learning a new language can prove to be useful beyond its individual benefits.
Of course, learning a new language in retirement may seem daunting. With the help of the Internet, textbooks, and conversation practice, however, there’s never been a time with more easily available language learning resources than today. Good luck!
Author Bio: Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she works to research and provide information comparing the best online colleges on the website, bestcollegesonline.com, and welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Eddie McHugh via Flickr