Kwei! Bonjour! Buenos dias! γεια σας! Buongiorno! こんにちは! Hallo! Olá! Привет!
Saying "Hi". This is one of the first words you try to master when learning a new language. A simple word, but one that allows us to establish a first contact with others ...
There is no age to learn a new language. Whether it's to further your education, to advance your career, to travel, to forge bonds, or to learn and nourish yourself from another culture.
The benefits of learning a new language are numerous and can even have repercussions on aging.(1) Indeed, several researchers are examining whether learning a new language can improve the quality of life of older adults and delay the onset of severe cognitive impairment.
What research tells us
A recent systematic review of seven studies examined the effects of learning a new language on cognitive abilities in healthy older adults.(2)
Despite some methodological shortcomings, such as the absence of control groups or differences in the intervention period, these studies reveal that learning a new language helps to maintain or improve cognitive abilities. Formal language classes have been shown to improve working memory, while playful activities to learn a new language have positive effects on attention. Bilingual individuals who learn a third language perform better in certain tasks, compared to unilingual individuals who learn a second language as adults.
Language classes and related activities, such as group discussions, reading, games, YouTube videos or singing in a foreign language, are easy activities to perform and are stimulating for older adults. The effect is positive on general wellbeing, including emotional wellbeing. Findings showed that older adults who learn another language feel more optimistic, confident, and proud.
In addition, in-person classes are great opportunities to socialize, to build strong social bonds among learners, and can foster greater integrating into society. Moreover, the positive cognitive effects of learning another language are due in part to the stimulation of social wellbeing.
Several resources are available to help you learn a new language:
Register for a course: Many language courses are offered online. You can also find out about available online or in-person courses at your local public library, community recreation and cultural centres, or educational institutions.
Immerse yourself in a new language: Tune in to radio channels from all over the world on your computer or mobile device. This will allow you to sharpen your ear to the rhythm of a new language. Online streaming platforms also offer films and tv series in the language of your choice. You can add subtitles to help you in your learning.
Help revitalize Indigenous languages: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has identified the revitalization of Indigenous languages as one of the pillars in building a pact of reconciliation. The Government of Canada has identified many tools, courses, exercises and other resources for teaching and learning Indigenous languages.
Now, what would you like to learn today?