Better Together

Happy National Foreign Language Week!

Foreign Language

Fröhlicher Nationaler Fremdsprachenmonat!

(With the help of Google translate) we want to wish you a happy National Foreign Language Week!

Observed this year on March 3-9, National Foreign Language Week dates back to 1957 when it was launched by Alpha Mu Gamma, the largest national collegiate foreign language honor society. The observance was introduced to help promote the importance of studying a foreign language.

Regardless of age, learning a foreign language has benefits above and beyond just helping to secure the best table at your favorite Italian restaurant.

The brain is often likened to a muscle, and much like exercise makes your muscles stronger, mental stimulation or “exercise” helps the brain get stronger. AARP reports that learning a “new language is like sending your brain to the gym.”

Ping Li, professor of psychology, linguistics and information sciences and technology at Penn State University, confirms this. He states that learning something such as a second language changes your brain network both structurally and functionally. “Like physical exercise, the more you use the brain, the more it grows and gets stronger,” he said.

Eton Institute cites that learning another language boosts brain power, improves memory, enhances the ability to multi-task, sharpens the mind and then keeps it sharper for longer, enhances decision-making, improves first language skills, and increases networking skills.

And research shows that language learning not only helps to decrease the risk of developing dementia but also to aids in functioning better and for longer after having developed it.

Furthermore, language learning expands your world and makes foreign travel less stressful.

Because of the wonders of modern technology, it’s never been easier to learn new languages. Some apps and software which are highly regarded for promoting language learning include Duolingo, a free app which helps learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Hebrew, and more; Anki, a free app that uses digital flashcards for learning language and other skills; Memrise, a website that teaches vocabulary, culture, science and history; Hellolingo, a comprehensive online language learning community; and Berlitz and Rosetta Stone, online language learning programs.

For those wishing to expand their opportunities for socialization by learning a new language alongside others within our area, Harper College offers day, evening and online classes in languages including Chinese, French, German, Spanish and Japanese.

At Friendship Village, at the request of a resident of German descent, we’ve launched a German Club. The residents meet monthly to talk about their childhoods, play games, take outings, read poetry and literature, and more, with the focus on maintaining and improving their German-speaking skills.

Regardless of your age and language interest, cites the fact that there’s never “a single good reason for not learning a language. That’s right. Nada.” We agree!

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