I’m learning American Sign Language or ASL! I’ve been using free online resources to learn how to speak with my hands. Truth be known, I already speak with my hands everyday – I’m part Italian. Granted, my hands don’t really say much. They are in constant motion whenever I’m talking, but that’s just for effect and emphasis.
You know the joke about that right?
How do you get an Italian to be quiet? Wait for it … You tie her hands behind her back! That would definitely do it for me.
Anyway, learning a new language is a great way to stimulate the mind, keep the brain healthy, boost your confidence and self-image, and expand your circle of knowledge.
Studies have shown that learning a language can better your academics, cognitive abilities and cultural awareness and acceptance. It can increase the size of the brain, keep the brain from declining with age, delay dementia, make you a better decision-maker, give you a better attention span and make you more perceptive; not to mention the benefits of exposure to other cultures.
What’s interesting is that you don’t have to master the new language to reap the benefits. The mere act of trying to learn a new language stimulates the brain. So, you don’t have to make any big or long term commitments in order to feed your brain and enjoy overall improvements in your day to day life.
By the way, I’m learning German, too. Since my American cousins live in Germany, I thought it would be cool to be able to speak to them in die deutsch. Since English is their native language, I have the luxury of speaking GermEnglish; or more precisely, EnGerman, since I will have far fewer German words in my communications. But still, it’s the thought that counts.
Since taking on these new languages, I’ve noticed that learning gets easier with each new one I tackle. Studies show that learning new languages becomes easier after your first two: that is, your native tongue and one other learned language. Your third, and successive languages are easier to learn due to your prior experience with language learning and your expanded cognition and logical thinking skills.
This includes the very relevant “languages” of the medical field, technology and specific industry jargon. With more and more people building their own websites, using smartphones to create music and art, and joining social media platforms, we are increasingly exposed to new terms and ways of thinking. Expanding our brains by learning a new language can help us with that by better preparing us to receive and analyze new information.
I’m using DuoLingo to learn German and to brush up on my Spanish. It’s great on your desktop or as an app: easy to get, easy to use, great results. I’m loving it!
So, why don’t you give it a try. Expand your brain, improve your cognition, and have some fun throwing out cool words and sounding smart.