Russian and Ukrainian may be ‘siblings’ but they are more different than you think.
Neuroplasticity is a concept in neuroscience which refers to the brain’s ability to change. Like any other part of the body, your brain can become stronger by exercising it. This is especially true when it comes to memory, which means that you can make learning languages easier with regular brain training. If you are looking to learn a new language skill as an adult, you will find it easier with the following brain exercises.
Puzzles and Games
Puzzles aren’t just for children. As you age, it is essential to continue to perform tasks that test your cognitive abilities in order to stop their deterioration. While watching television can have a beneficial relaxing effect, it is important to find other downtime activities that are more mentally challenging.
Sudokus and cryptic crosswords are popular puzzles for adults, although you may not have realized how they can help you learn a language. Both number and word games require you to think logically and hold a lot of information in your head at one time. This helps to change the brain and enhance your working memory, which is important when conversing in a foreign language.
Take Up a New Sport
A workout for your body is a workout for your brain. Exercise improves memory and cognitive functions by having an anti-inflammatory effect on unwanted cells while contributing to the growth of key areas of the brain. Some studies have shown growth in the hippocampus, the part of the brain related to memory and learning.
Exercises such as yoga incorporate mental and physical health, but any sport has a mental component. Team games such as soccer will improve your communication skills, making it easier to converse with someone in a different language. Learning any unfamiliar sport will also involve you having to catch up on the rules quickly, thereby stretching your brain through learning.
Use All Your Senses
Brain exercises can help to improve all five senses, but only if you are willing to exercise all of them. Do taste tests using food or drink. For instance, you could have a selection of wines from the cheapest brand to the most expensive. Try and recall from memory which is which to really test a sense that you may not usually think too much about.
You can also carry out routine tasks with your eyes closed. Sometimes we become too reliant on sight. Closing your eyes to eat or do laundry will force other neural pathways to work harder, allowing you to exercise your sound or smell receptors.
You may be wondering what this has to do with language learning, but it is all a part of strengthening the brain. Learning a new language is extremely difficult, which is why many people throughout the world are monolingual despite a desire to speak foreign languages. Work on each and every sense and spend time shaking up your routine. Learn new skills and do mental puzzles to keep strengthening those pathways needed for learning a language.
– written by Jane Sandwood, contributor at Mondly