Finding meaningful ways to maintain mental fitness is important at any age. Experts say that adults can learn a new language in less time due to their knowledge and experiences that help to make associations. It has also become easier to learn a foreign language with advanced and modern technologies available. Learning a new language is an exciting retirement hobby at any age and unlocks great new opportunities:
1. Learning Keeps Your Brain Active and Healthy
Bilingualism has a direct relationship with dementia. Researchers say that people who speak two or more languages have a decreased chance of developing dementia. This is because switching from one language to another activates the areas of the brain responsible for executive functioning. This area is also responsible for completing tasks. Studies show that utilizing this part of the brain can decrease cognitive decline and delay the development of dementia.
Learning a new language in retirement can help exercise the brain and improve brain health. The brain needs exercise at any age. Learning new words every day or learning a new language can functionally and structurally change the brain. It helps to make it more efficient and flexible.
2. Language-Learning Builds Confidence in Your Ability to Learn
There is a new concept called neurogenesis that challenges the old belief that the ability to learn weakens with age. According to neurogenesis, the brain does not stop developing and growing after a certain point. Rather the phenomenon of neurogenesis, i.e., the development of new brain cells, can occur at any age in your life. Neurogenesis can be stimulated by various things like learning a new language. When you learn a new language, your confidence in learning something else also builds.
3. You Get a Chance to Discover and Enjoy Foreign Foods
This might sound corny to you, but this is true. When you learn a foreign language, you get a whole new vocabulary and appreciation of the culture's flavors, ingredients, textures, and traditions. If you love the tastes of some countries, you should learn their languages. You can even join cooking courses on the internet and learn how to cook your favorite dishes in their original language.
Moreover, if you have international friends, you can invite them to your country and have a good time with them. For seniors, learning a new language is a more suitable way to engage with the world.
4. You Will Learn about Different Cultures
When you learn a foreign country's language, you can more easily understand the books, movies, literature, and culture of that country. Watching foreign films when you know their language is much more fun than watching with subtitles in your native language. Moreover, reading foreign novels in their original language is a much better way to understand the story than reading in English translated form. There are often subtle changes in phrases or cultural expressions that you understand better in the original language. If you have knowledge of that language, you can easily recognize the form and structure of phrases.
5. Traveling Will be Better
It is challenging and defeating to visit a country where you cannot communicate in the native language. It is difficult to talk with the locals and ask for their help. Learning the local language of that country will give you a much greater level of confidence. You can travel to more countries and can get more out of your visits.
Most older adults tend to retain their mental, physical, and financial means to travel. Learning a new language will help them make the tour experiences more enjoyable.
6. Learning a New Language Improve Socializing
In addition to all the benefits of being bilingual we have discussed so far, learning a new language in retirement also helps seniors to socialize better. Taking classes can provide an excellent opportunity to meet with other people and make new friends to spend quality time with. People say that the friends you make later in life are the most sincere friends. What is a better way to make new friends than sharing cultural interests and taking fun language classes with them?
7. Learning a New Language Improves Decision-Making Skills
In recent research from the University of Chicago, it was found that bilingual people can make more rational decisions. The people who speak more than one language can make a decision with confidence after thinking it under both languages and seeing if the conclusions made in both languages are the same. Learning a new language helps you think with less emotion, resulting in a more rational and logical decision.
Learning a new language has a lot of benefits for older adults. The first and most important benefit it offers is that it helps preserve cognitive abilities that help to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, it increases self-confidence. Older adults realize that they can do difficult things well. It also presents an opportunity for socialization as they get a chance to meet with people of their age. According to the gerontological Society of America, socialization at an old age can improve general well-being. Learning a new language in retirement is a great way to do so!
What do you think? Have you learned a language in retirement? What was your favorite part?