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How About Going Bonjour or Gracias?

24 May, 2021

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It’s never too old to learn, and learning should be the only constant in life. Today, with access to many online learning tools, and some of them free as well, there is simply no excuse not to learn. One of the best ways to keep yourself engaged would be to pick up a new language. Perhaps, you had always wanted to learn a foreign language and could not. Now is the best time to go about it! 

Whether French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese or even closer home, Sanskrit, you have more than enough resources out there. It may be fun to enrol and pick up a new language and maybe even converse in it with your family. You could even team up with your grandkids to learn it together. If you have a grown-up grandkid looking to continue studies abroad, then they may anyway be looking to pick up a new language as well. This new initiative may give some new purpose in life and provide some indirect benefits to your overall well-being.

It’s easy, or Is it not?

Typically, there is a resistance among many seniors to pick up anything new, especially a language. This also has a scientific link called neuroplasty, linked to the brain’s ability to learn. This is said to decrease with age and adds to the natural hesitation to pick up something new. Learning a language is not easy; it is a complex process. However, research also suggests that seniors learning a new language may have an advantage over their younger counterparts. We cannot make any blanket presumptions either way about interest or ability to learn, and many seniors are indeed living proof of this.

While picking up the accent may be a problem, seniors are likely to pick up a language faster due to a generally larger vocabulary. Online learning has multiple ways like learning with chatbots, games, videos, live classes and more. These could keep you engrossed for an hour or two in a day if you can spare it.

Improves cognition

Interestingly, there is evidence suggesting that monolingual seniors are likely to develop dementia earlier than those who are bilingual. Any learning, especially language learning, can help exercise the brain and improve cognition capabilities. 

This is also why seniors are suggested to keep doing puzzles, crosswords, and so on. When the brain is kept active with regular exercise, it will remain healthy and retain its cognitive capabilities for a longer time. A study even suggested that learning a language can ‘rewire’ your brain. Thus, overall, it may help delay or decrease the effects of dementia. Learning is a challenging activity that will keep your brain young and sharp. According to science, in a few cases, it can even help reverse brain ageing. With dementia being one of the main concerns of ageing, perhaps, learning a new language may well be pushed by this need. 

A larger entertainment platter

With OTT comes access to world cinema, and many foreign-language movies and shows have taken the world by storm. One such example is the Korean movie Parasite that became hugely popular. Most of the Academy Award winners in the Foreign Language category are also available on the OTT platforms. Japanese Anime is becoming very popular as well. While we may watch these movies and shows with subtitles, it is not the same as watching them otherwise. Concentrating more on reading the subtitles may reduce the joy of watching the content. We could choose to learn a new language in which we would love to watch new content.

This could well be true about Indian languages as well. There is so much content available in many Indian languages; you could pick up one or two languages that you want to watch and start learning it as well. This could even help you with better socialization skills. You may be able to converse with your neighbours from other parts of India and surprise them with your skills! Au Revoir, Servus, Cheerio!

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