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7 Reasons Why Learning A Second Language Makes You A Better Person


I recently discovered numerous scientific reasons why you seem to appear smarter, more creative, or attractive, when you can speak more than one language. Here are the top reasons why:

1. You Develop Better Memory

Researchers have found numerous positive impacts that being bilingual has on our brain. First of all, knowing two languages helps you process information about the surrounding environment more effectively, meaning you become a faster learner. Next, children who speak a second language typically have much better working memories, compared to monolingual peers. Adults, fret not! Though our working memories are developed early in life and it may be harder to master a new language once we’re grown-up, you can still reap the positive benefits.

2. You Strengthen Your Brain

Being fluent in more than one language improves your brain’s functionality by challenging it to operate within different language systems, hence boosting your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well. From a scientific standpoint, switching between different languages triggers the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for problem-solving, multi-tasking, and focusing on important things while filtering out irrelevant information).

Bilingual people are also better at paying attention to their environment and analyzing it. This skill comes from being able to tell which language is spoken, so that one can quickly switch between different languages.

Knowing two languages also makes you more creative as you are more capable of understanding things like language syntax, metaphors, and figurative speech, which boost our creative skills and allows us to respond to obstacles in an out-of-the-box manner. In general, being bilingual allows you to tap into the unused creative parts of our brain unlike those who are monolingual.

Another study, from the National Academy of Sciences, discovered additional cognitive gains from being bilingual since birth. Scientists tested 7-month-old infants using audio and changing visuals to analyze their cognitive performance in comparison to monolinguals. They were given an audio cue before being showed a visually stimulating reward (a puppet popping up on their screen). The action was repeated, so that the babies would anticipate the reward. The rewards were also displayed on the opposite sides of the screen after the audio was played. The experiment’s results proved that bilingual babies were faster to adapt to switching screens and showed faster reactions.

Another group of adults were tested to learn Spanish with lyrics in Spanish and English. Participants who already knew another language apart from English and Spanish, proved to pick up and remember the lines faster, compared to those who knew one of the languages, once again proving the positive impact of being bilingual in regards to our memory and cognitive performance in general.

3. You Stave Off Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease For a Few Years

According to Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, knowing two languages can reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s and postpone dementia.

When conducting a test with bilingual seniors, researchers discovered they were better at tasks that required them to sort out colors and shapes, when compared to monolingual peers. They also monitored the processes happening inside their brains with a scanner. It turned out that the brains of a monolingual worked much harder to accomplish the task, while the bilingual’s brains were more efficient and could be compared to those of young adults. Having more reserve of brain power when you age can help you stay protected against the losses caused by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

4. You Become Better At Building Relationships With Others

Apart from the obvious fact that being capable of conversing in different languages makes it easier to create social ties with people around the globe and win attraction more easily, there’s also a more subtle level of impact behind that.

Susan Ervin-Tripp from the University of California noted in her report, “When we are in situations demanding a change in language, we may have a strong sense of a shift in values and feelings. Some bilinguals even report they have two personalities.” Indeed, a lot of bilinguals admit they feel like having two different personalities for operating one or another language. Mainly, this is due to the fact that different languages influence the way we think, from how we choose the vocabulary to describe the world around us to getting influenced by the different cultures you are operating in. Actually, that’s a great thing, as the ability to switch between different languages improves your ability to understand others, be more empathetic, and communicate better; therefore, drastically improving your relationships with others.

Language is the core tool to help us better understand morals, beliefs, passions, and woes of other people.

5. You Have More Career Prospects

Having more than one language in your resume can drastically improve your chances of getting hired. In fact, a recent survey proved that bilinguals in the US also tend to earn at least $7.000 more annually compared to monolingual peers with the same kind of work experience. The reason is simple: there are fewer bilinguals to choose from, hence each one has a higher “value”. However, in Canada (a bilingual country), many people speak the two official languages of English and French. They tend to earn 7-8% more than monolingual counterparts. Foreign languages that will currently make you the most money include German, French, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic.

6. You Seem To Appear More Attractive

There’s something special about your friend who’s capable of switching between languages, right? Well, a recent international survey has just confirmed that bilingual people tend to appear more attractive compared to monolinguals. Over 79% of survey respondents from around the globe agreed that a person speaking a second language instantly seems more appealing. However, there’s a catch. Only certain languages cast this magical effect. The languages on top of this list are no surprise: French, Italian, Spanish, and English. The least sexy language turned out to be Korean.

7. You Become a Better Traveler

One of the biggest differences between a traveler and a mere tourist is that the first one is capable of making genuine connections with the locals and getting to know the culture deeper, while the first one simply enjoys a quick and superficial familiarity. Speaking the local language, at least just a few words, will open more doors to you and will help you connect to the locals on a new level.

Obviously, navigating around a foreign land gets much easier. The locals will often make an additional effort for you if you manage to crunch just a few local phrases. At least, that’s what my travel experience has proven so far!

Repost from Lifehack.

At 16, Reece Whitley Stands Tall in and Out of Water

I am always excited when I read about African American youth excelling in school. But I am obviously ecstatic when I learn about Black youth that are excelling in Mandarin also.

Whitley, 16, is on the fast track in school and swimming. In the classroom, his workload includes Mandarin Chinese and advanced courses in chemistry and algebra. In the water, he posted the seventh-fastest time among American men in the 200-meter breaststroke last year to establish himself as a 2016 Olympic hopeful.

Read more here.



Every Thursday, Reece Whitley’s busy life screeches to a halt. The red light built into his 10-grade class schedule at William Penn Charter School, a private Quaker institution founded in 1689, is a 40-minute meditative period known as “Meeting for Worship.” The period of silence, sometimes broken by students or teachers sharing thoughts when the spirit moves them, was the topic of a lively conversation during a recent Quaker Principles class.

One student said the 40 minutes would be better spent studying. Another dismissed it as the adolescent version of nap time as sleep-deprived students sometimes nod off.

Whitley, wedged into a back-row seat like a Hummer limousine in a parking space for a compact car, raised his hand and said he looked forward to the Meeting for Worship more this year than in the past.

“I can kind of get away from thinking about everything,” he said, adding, “It’s nice.”

Whitley, 16, is on the fast track in school and swimming. In the classroom, his workload includes Mandarin Chinese and advanced courses in chemistry and algebra. In the water, he posted the seventh-fastest time among American men in the 200-meter breaststroke last year to establish himself as a 2016 Olympic hopeful.

What to Say To your Kids About the Election?

It is hard to keep our kids out of the very adult conversations that have entered this election cycle. Either side you stand on there has been a lot of name calling and put downs regarding those folks across the aisle. Here are a few tips from our friends at Common Sense Media.

Today, when the latest campaign trail gaffe or political scandal goes viral, your kids will likely hear about it before you do. How will they know whether a claim or a charge is based in fact, an unsubstantiated smear, or typical campaign overstatement?

For today’s teens, social media is their primary news source. According to a study by the University of Chicago, nearly half of young people age 15–25 get news at least once a week from family and friends via Twitter or Facebook. And they can’t necessarily tell fact from fiction. The presidential candidates now use Twitter to spin their messages and slam their opponents. One of the study’s conclusions: “Youth must learn how to judge the credibility of online information and how to find divergent views on varied issues.”

The media plays a huge role in our country’s political process. And with the 24/7 news cycle, those effects are magnified. On the plus side, there are plenty of age-appropriate resources at your fingertips, some of which we’ve listed below. Here’s how you can help your kids become media-savvy participants in democracy.

Elementary School Kids

Seek out kid-friendly news. Turn to news sources designed for kids, such as HTE Kids NewsTime for Kids, and Scholastic Kids Press Corps. These news websites break down the events of the day in age-appropriate terms, while avoiding stuff you probably won’t want them exposed to.

Decode ads. When a political ad comes on TV or is striped across or down the side of a computer screen, talk to your kid about the claims the ad is making and how music and visuals are used to persuade viewers. Talk about why there are so many negative ads — and why they work.

Read kid-friendly books about American politics. Check out Bad Kitty for President, which does a surprisingly good job of explaining the U.S. political system. And since candidates are always referring to the founding fathers, find out what they were really like in The Founding Fathers: Those Horse-Ridin’, Fiddle-Playin’, Book-Readin’, Gun-Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America. See Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? and Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? for a taste of colonial-era politics.

Keep the bombast at bay. Kids may not understand concepts such as abortion, guns, troops, and immigration, but they can certainly feel the emotion behind the rhetoric. Try to change the station and mute the TV when you can. Kids will pick up on your reactions — and they sometimes feel at fault for causing them — so if a candidate makes you mad, explain that the man or woman on TV made you feel that way and why.

Middle School Kids

Watch one or more of the many televised candidate debates. Discuss the issues during the commercials and after it’s over. Ask your kid: Whom do you think won, and why? Did the moderator challenge the candidates or just let them spout their talking points?

Talk about political advertising. How is a political ad like a regular commercial for a product? Is it selling a candidate just like another sells cereal? Who paid for the ad you’re watching? Can political ads actually influence the outcome of an election? Watch political movies to see how fictional political strategies mirror real-life ones.

Share political cartoons. Mocking the candidates is a long-cherished tradition Americans can enjoy in the name of free speech. Poking fun of politicians takes some bite out of their often harsh statements, shows kids that challenging bold claims is part of our political process, and offers a sense of relief when the campaign rhetoric heats up.

Ask how elections really work. Draw a link between your kids’ experience of student body elections or mock presidential elections at school and those on the state and national levels. Are elections just a popularity contest, or does someone win because he or she has the best ideas?

De-fang hate speech and fear-mongering. Be sensitive to the fact that when candidates unleash extreme, zealous statements, they can stir up scary emotions (worry, confusion, fear, anxiety) in tweens. Explain that candidates intentionally try to appeal to people’s emotions to gain an advantage over their rivals and that some candidates will resort to insulting, bullying, and even lying. Tell your kids that much of what the candidates say simply isn’t true. See if you can get your kids to pick out the kinds of statements that are attention-getting vs. meaningful comments about what policies the candidates would institute if elected.

High School Kids

Watch news and debates together. Compare the media coverage on different shows and networks. Do reporters, news anchors, and opinion shows spend too much time on distractions that heat up the news cycle rather than on the real issues facing our country? Check the credibility of candidates’ claims at the nonpartisan site

Talk about the influence of polls. A lot of what drives momentum in campaigns are the latest poll results, reported on news shows and websites. Your family may be getting calls at home from pollsters or one of the campaigns asking whom you’ll vote for. How might polls influence people? Are polls accurate predictors of election-day results? Send teens to Reddit, where they can share, rank, and discuss the news.

Discuss the role of social media in elections. Do your teens follow any politicians on Twitter or other feeds? What kinds of posts earn your teen’s respect, and what kinds erode it? Is it risky to talk politics with friends online if you disagree?

Remind them not to believe everything they read. Encourage them to get out from behind their computers with Rock the Vote, which uses music and pop culture to engage teens.

Talk about fear and hate-mongering among politicians. Teens are old enough to understand that extreme positions and outrageous comments attract attention — and sometimes that’s all politicians want. Why do candidates make offensive statements, and what impact do zealous positions have on voters and the political process? Do you pay more attention when a candidate is making outrageous statements or discussing actual policy? How much of what a candidate says is designed to appeal to voters’ emotions?

Repost from Common Sense Media





New York First Responders Learn Mandarin

“Ni Hao,” first responders say as they arrive at an old firehouse in Brooklyn. That’s Mandarin Chinese for “hi” or “hello.”

About a dozen firefighters, EMTs and paramedics spend about two hours a week taking the first Mandarin course offered under the auspices of the Fire Department of New York’s Phoenix Society and the New York City Fire Department Foundation.

A recent U.S. Census Bureau report about New York City revealed an increasingly diverse and dynamic population, with immigrants comprising the majority in some neighborhoods. Almost 200 languages are spoken, so knowledge of different languages can become critical, especially if you are a first responder.

The Chinese community is predicted to become New York’s largest immigrant group in the next few years, and will be the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.

Growing need

First responders have to be able to communicate quickly and effectively when an emergency arises, said Lieutenant Steve Lee, president of the FDNY Phoenix Society.

“We’re going into these neighborhoods and in these communities and assisting anybody who’s in need of such assistance regardless of where they’re from,” Lee said. “So a lot of times, we do encounter language and barriers. It’s a vital resource for us to be able to communicate to the people who are calling for our help.”

Discovering the exact location of a blaze without the assistance of a homeowner or renter can be a real handicap, according to Lee.

“So you speak to the people, you say, ‘What building? What’s the address? What apartment?’ and one of the most important things you can find out, especially if it’s an occupant from that apartment, ‘Is there anybody left in there and where?'” Lee said.

The statistics underscore the crucial need for multilingual skills. There currently are 450,000 non-English speaking Asians in New York City. On any given day, only six Asian-American firefighters are working the city streets.

First Responders

Lifelong teacher

Lily Cheung, who teaches the Mandarin class, is thoroughly impressed with this first group of responders.

“I can see this amazing progress they have made with this language, one of the hardest languages in the world,” she said. “They work long hours, some of them actually work the night shift, and they may not even have enough time to rest, but they come to class.”

Cheung started teaching Mandarin when she was 11 years old. Her mother was a Mandarin teacher before she retired.

Cheung has her own style, which she calls the “Chinglish Way.”

“I would explain it to them like in the English order,” she said. “There’s a Chinese order, and then I would translate, like literally dissect the language part-to-part and then combine them together. So just make it really easy for students to understand.”

High praise

A paramedic for 14 years, Doraun Ellis has had some Mandarin training before, and has high praise for his teacher.

“She goes to each and every single person in this class,” Ellis said, “and goes over the lesson until we thoroughly understand what she’s taught. She really shows us how to use it.”

Ellis added, “The closer I get to being able to complete an interview with a patient on an emergency call, the more successful I am with making them feel at ease.”

The students already have put their language training to use. Jacob Dutton, a 10-year FDNY veteran, responded to an emergency call in the past week involving a report of gas in an apartment.

“We got up there,” Dutton said, “and lo and behold, the two occupants of the apartment only spoke Mandarin. And so I did have an opportunity to speak to them and kind of figure out what was going on.”

He was able to find the gas leak and get the residents to make the necessary repairs.

A second Mandarin class is scheduled for April, along with classes in other languages.


What’s the Hardest Language to Learn?

Speaking a foreign language is often a high hurdle for many expats to leap – but what are the world’s most difficult languages to learn?

Expats and human resources managers at multinationals were posed the question and it seems wherever they are based in the world, they all have a similar answer.

Expats from the USA, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific all responded that Mandarin Chinese was the hardest language to get to grips with for non-speaking expats.


Almost 40% of expats and their managers felt M

andarin Chinese was a tough option.

In a tie for second place were Japanese and Arabic, both scoring 18% in the poll by relocation firm Cartus.

medium-languages-to-learn4Meaning with meaning

Spokesman Patrice Heinzer explained that successful expats need to master foreign languages to make life easier for them and their colleagues.

“Mandarin Chinese is really hard to learn for Westerner because the language has thousands of subtle tones, inflections and characters that subtly change the meaning of words in a way that is unfamiliar to someone from Europe orNorth America,” he said.

Heinzer also argued that expats needed to go beyond conversational language for their jobs.

“Expats need to understand meaning within meaning like a natural speaker of a language,” he said.

“To become an effective negotiator you have to understand and imply the right meaning to your words in everyday business situations.”

Cartus also asked expats which language they felt most comfortable learning – with Spanish topping the list.

Hard-Languages-To-Learn3Tongue twisting languages

Looking at the question from the Chinese perspective, the list of tongue-twisting languages is not much different.

The Chinese People’s Daily published this list of difficult languages. Top was Chinese – the others were (in degree of difficulty with the hardest last):

  • French
  • Danish
  • Norwegian
  • German
  • Finnish
  • Japanese
  • Icelandic
  • Arabic
  • Greek

The list was published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) along with explanations of why they were considered tough to speak.

The UN considered many languages were hard to learn because their written form gave no clues to how to pronounce words.

“Where you come from does influence the way you learn and speak a language, but the hardest to learn seem to involve a written form that does not reflect the spoken word,” said a UNESCO spokesman.

The “Not Face” Is a Universal Language, Researchers Say

The Not Face―that look of boredom or strong disapproval that is many a person’s neutral face―was only certified A Real Thing by scientists in October 2015. Now, new research says the facial expression transcends barriers between different cultures.


In a study conducted by Ohio State University, native speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and American Sign Language all interpreted negative feelings with what researchers dubbed the “Not Face.” The study, published in the May issue of Cognition, was inspired by a theory from Charles Darwin, who believed conveying aggression and danger were assets for the propagation of the human race.

Researchers tagged images of students speaking frame by frame to see which facial muscles moved when they disagreed. Then, computer algorithms found commonalities in three distinct muscle movements: furrowed brows, raised chin, and pressed-together lips (a combo of “anger,” “disgust,” and “contempt”). Kinda like this:


The scientists found the Not Face was often used in lieu of words across the different languages. “To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that the facial expressions we use to communicate negative moral judgment have been compounded into a unique, universal part of language,” said Aleix Martinez, an Ohio State University professor of electrical and computer engineering and the researcher behind the study.

A less politically correct viral video also attempts to jokingly reference the universal use of the “b*tchy resting face”.

Repost from

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