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The health benefits of learning a second language

The Toronto Star – Megan Dolski

“Cuervo knew that learning another language would not only open cultural and social doors for her son, a Grade 4 student at John Fisher Junior Public School in Toronto, but would also be healthy for his mind. “If you speak two or more languages it trains your brain more,” said Cuervo, a Spanish and linguistics professor at the University of Toronto. “It’s like being more of an athlete.” The “workout” happens when the brain has to juggle competing vocabularies. For example, an English and French speaker has to decide between saying “cat” or “chat” each time they see one. “You are thinking of words or structures in two different languages, so you have to suppress one to speak in only one language,” Cuervo says. Doing this can strengthen the part of the brain that helps us process information and focus, she adds. Different research studies show that bilinguals are better decision makers, can experience a later onset of dementia, are more perceptive, or think differently.”(more)

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