Learn a Language to Improve Brain Power
The subjective matter of which area of your life can be best improved by learning a new language, career, love life, travel or brain power will depend on your own unique experience of life. As a rule of thumb though, all four areas will be enhanced, but one will perhaps emerge as the winner.
During a long period of fascination with Italy, my desire to travel, to become erudite on matters such as the local food, nightspots and browse the markets has never diminished. For me it became apparent that being able to communicate effectively in Italian was essential in achieving satisfaction in any of these areas.
The use of a second language has become an addiction; when communication with a local is successful even on one occasion, you instantly reach your goals and even surpass your expectations of a given scenario. For example obtaining exactly the right type of peach to stew overnight in local red wine was further rewarded by the street trader with free samples of plums. On another occasion asking the fish seller to prepare a sea bream was further rewarded by the bonus of a fistful of fresh parsley as a worthy stuffing or garnish.
Workwise I now teach English as a foreign language while including journalism, blogging and translating as other occupations. Teaching English in Sicily would not be realistic without a good command of Italian (and perhaps some Sicilian!) as the grammar points often need to be explained in both English and Italian. Without the language a teacher would be limited to working with advanced and upper intermediate levels only. If a student asks what does “should” mean in Italian, such a teacher would not be able to tell them.
As for love life it’s obvious that an Italian lady will look more favourably on a prospective suitor if you tell her in her native language that you adore her. ‘Ma quanto sei bella, sei indimenticabile! You’re so beautiful, you are unforgettable!’ You might also need to add: ‘I have a large BMW and earn 150 K per year.’ This should convince her further.
It is said that learning a new language opens up new sections of the brain that have never been used before. It certainly helps in understanding language and communication in a general sense making the essence of what people want to say much clearer.
As an Irishman, I learned Gaelic during school and was fluent by the age of 12, though I was one of the lucky ones in having a magnificent native speaker as a teacher. This helped me to approach other languages with confidence, especially since Gaelic’s use of pronouns and direct and indirect articles is more similar to Italian than to English. It has been proven by research some of which is listed above that learning a third language is easier than learning a second.
As I stated at the beginning this is a subjective matter but one particular area shone through for me personally. The advantage of speaking a second or third language in my experience has been in the intellect department. I find that I can now work on many simultaneous projects without becoming either confused or tired. The ability to use your brain in diverse ways at an instant’s notice has been established through the improved cognitive function that results from learning and speaking other languages daily. It could be compared to developing the physique so that it can achieve feats previously not possible.
In few words, or as the Italians say, in poche parole, learning a language is a great workout for your brain which takes it to inconceivable heights and releases your true potential.
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John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home. His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction. It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society. Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:
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Back to the Gaff
Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland
Back to the Gaff is a book by new author John P Brady, which describes the excessive and outrageous nature of Irish night life. Meet an array of eccentric individuals who populate the bars of Dublin, living lives of decadence and abandon. Their frolics inevitably lead to a trip ‘back to the gaff,’ which in Dublin-speak means gravitating towards someone’s place of residence where the depravity continues.
Ebook and Paperback available: