“Foreign languages should be a requirement for any kind of degree,” said Professor Antonella Sorace of Edinburgh University, following her research on bilingualism’s ability to delay or prevent dementia. Sorace has long been an advocate of foreign language learning, and her latest research shows that even starting a language in your sixties or seventies offers huge benefits to cognitive health.
Dr. Sorace studied retirees on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, with one control group taking intensive Gaelic language lessons, and the other taking non-language courses. “We found in those who were doing a language course, the brain responds,” she said. Even after just one week, the brains of language learners showed heightened activity.
Studies have long shown the benefits of learning languages in childhood, but this latest research suggests it is never too late to improve your mental health. Experts believe bilingual people have a cognitive reserve that delays dementia by over four years.