Does learning a second language make you smarter?

I’ve read that knowing more than one language can make a person smarter. Besides the ability to speak multiple languages, have any of you noticed increased ability in other thinking skills that you did not have when you spoke one language?

I hope this is true because I could really do with some added intelligence! :slight_smile:

I am not sure that you will be smarter by learning a new language, but you’ll be able to enrich your horizon, improve your memory and see the world more colorful understanding better the big and sometimes steep difference between cultures and nations and mayby not to try to make all world uniform like the Americans would like often to make it!

@Imyirtseshem: Yes, of course not all Americans. I have a lot of them who are my friends and we have no problems in our relationships, we are on good or even excellent terms.
But I believe that before there were two wold powers - the Soviet Union and the US- that would like to have the whole world be similar to them, so at present Russia doesn’t want to make the world play its game, but some important figures in the USA politics would like to do it!
And if I learn English, it doesn’t mean that I must think that’s all right!
We are different and we must be different.
If the world were once in the future the same, it would die.
But to be unlike doesn’t mean we have to be at war like in the past, it means - to accept the differences in the culture and lifestyles in different countries and to enjoy learning these countries and studying their languages!
That’s all, my dear Imiritseshem!

I don’t know if learning a foreign language makes you smarter, but I’ve heard that it delays, or even prevents, the apparition of the Alzheimer’s disease.

I do believe that speaking another language exercises the brain, which in turn helps decrease the “decay” of neurons (if that’s what you call them). Although, it all depends on how you want to define ‘smart’.

I did read some research that appeared to show bi-linguals having healthier brains for longer. That is, less evidence of diseases like parkinsons and alzheimers in older people who speak more than one language. I’m not sure this equals being smarter overall, but i’ll be happy of the benefit of I ever get there.

Earlier this year, research was quoted on the bbc that suggested that using two languages on a daily basis boosted the brain, and significantly more so than doing other brain exercises. It was the processing of sounds that was highlighted as being important: Being bilingual 'boosts brain power' - BBC News

I listened one of my teachers saying something about this issue some time ago… Our thought speed is directely related to our capacity to stablish neuronal connections and to travel by neuronal ways in our brain while we think. So, I do believe that learning another language will fortify our neuronal connections and, in the same time, it will force our neurons to make many new links.
So, if we could see the thought speed as intelligence, I think the language learning can provide a huge improvement to that. Learning a musical instrument works in that sense as well.

There is a lot of talk these days about tricks and ways to make yourself smarter, or healthier, or live longer, etc. etc. Not that these are not decent goals perhaps, but I think their constant discussion belies the fact that we are slowly and steadily losing our ability to talk about more meaningful things. Human life is reduced to occupying some kind of shell which we attempt to ‘optimize’ like we might a car. Everything we do becomes ‘for the sake of’ something else. The very concept of ‘smartness’ is close to empty, signifying nothing, if you take away the actual content, the actual thought you occupy yourself with.

Learning a language can be a very enriching and enjoyable experience if you allow it to be.

As for the ‘Americanization’ of the world, from another perspective it is actually the Westernization of the world actualized by techno-science. It so happens that America, not Europe ended up playing the main role, but ultimately American culture is powerful because the country is wealthy, and the country is wealthy because of the rise of Western science and social structures. There is some counteraction now from other countries of course, but even places like China can only get more and more Western as they modernize. It can’t really be helped.

@Vonc, danchan etc
I was in the hospital with my Asthma and couldn’t answer earlier. Who said that I don’t like the Americans? I repeat that I have some American pen-friends, and I know that the most of Americans are very friendly and helpful people, that many rich Americans give a lot of money for charity in different countries. By the way, rich Russian people are not so generous. I taught a lot of Americans at my language school in St Petersburg, among them also some officiers of American army or future diplomats. They were mostly nice, hardworking, sociable, easy going and goal oriented.But of course we had some discussions. I was not always agree with their opinions. Different countries have different lifestyles, different history and consequently different values. Globalisation and the rapid technology progress give us new oppotunity for cooperation, but it doezn’t elliminate the differences in the cultures and values. The world shouldn’t be uniform! So I decided to orginize 2 times a month open discussions for sharing opinions about politics and cultures in LingQ: WORLD TODAY in English, UNSERE WELT in German and МИР СЕГОДНЯ in Russian. I invite not only English, German or Russian learners but also the native speakers where you can represent your opinions and your values.
And now I return from the politics to my tutor’s advice: Study foreign languages, learn new cultures - it’s the best hobby in the world! Be patient and persisting in your studying! Try to find interesting podcasts and memorize useful words. Don’t be afraid of temporal difficulties, you’ll be able to overcome them step by step and then you’ll open the new world of significations, widen greatly your horizon! English is great! Russian is great! German is great! French is great! The other languages are also very interesting. Enjoy them!

@Vonk: “I still do not understand your opinion on uniformity and Americans.”

I understand it. I see you have an American flag next to your name as I do. Next time you’re in an urban or suburban area, take a look around. Uniformity abounds. Smaller shops and stores are constantly being put out of business in favor of the uniformity that big-box sellers provide. I suspect evegueny40 is referring to that sort of uniformity, not anything linguistic, because it’s also happening all over Europe and elsewhere.


Increasing uniformity of culture comes hand in hand with the demolishing of time and space occurring in the modern world. In a generation half of the worlds languages will disappear as the old speakers die because they are no longer being transmitted to the youth. It is not simply about America, it is about technology enabling urbanization and interconnection.

I can pick out words in English songs much easier now than before because that is the skill I’ve been training - picking out words from other languages.

My memory, I would argue is better, but only because I have researched and practiced memory techniques because of language learning.

As for making you smarter?You’ll have to define smarter in a narrower tunnel. I think you get “smarter” at the skills you practice, that is all.