Our research foundations.
Recent studies published by the University of Edinburgh show that those who are able to speak a second language tend to develop dementia up to 5 years later than those of us who can only speak one. This level of prevention is greater than anything currently offered in the fields of medicine or pharmacology, and it's for such reasons that many are calling for language learning be viewed as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, much like exercising or maintaining a balanced diet.
Why though is language learning so good for the brain? Well, simply speaking it’s because language learning acts as an incredibly effective workout for the mind…
By employing the ‘desirable difficulties’ of novelty, challenge, and effort, language learning keeps the brain active and leads to measurable cognitive improvements (particularly when compared to less taxing, more familiar activities). That’s to say, the constant juggling between distinct sounds, new words, and unfamiliar concepts acts as an efficient brain work-out, building up higher levels of what is known as ‘cognitive reserve’, leading to a healthy and active mind. All of this add up to improve our decision making and multi-tasking skills, and heightens our ability to concentrate and communicate.
What’s more, the same body of research shows that the stimulating effects of language are not confined to those who learnt their second language in early life, nor those who have mastered their language perfectly. Rather, directed language learning positively effects mental performance and ability after just one week. Therefore, regardless of your age, ability, or diagnosis, the power of language learning can have a positive impact on your life.
It is this incredible research that catalyses Lingo Flamingo as we put it into action daily through our challenging but accessible classes for older adults and those living with dementia. We also employ our same research-based approaches to the classes delivered in our Language Hub.
Our own research.
We are constantly trying to gauge feedback and measure the impact that our classes have on participants, families, carers and care homes. We use a variety of different methods to this this, from cognitive testing to feedback surveys. To date this desk research has been overwhelmingly positive.
We are now however looking to move this forward and are working on n a groundbreaking research project with both Alzheimer Scotland and the University of Edinburgh to measure specific cognitive effects of language learning on older adults. This is a world first for research of this kind! And the results from this study will be released in the near future, so keep an eye out.
- The Guardian - The care home residents proving it's never too late to learn a new language
- BBC - Study into how language delays onset of dementia
- BBC - Govan dementia language project launched
- University of Edinburgh - New language project
- STV News - Care home language project launched
- Thomas Bak - Language lessons to help protect against dementia