In the previous post, we wrote about using musical instruments as a brain training exercise. Well, we know that the other thing that is also good for the brain is learning languages. And now a study by Yang et al., 2014 provides more compelling reasons why learning a second language can be a good brain training exercise, regardless of your age.
Whether children, adults, or the elderly, learning another language causes rapid improvements in gray matter density and white matter integrity. – Psyblog
Why do I get excited about these things? Because, I like efficiency – one activity, multiple benefits. We live in a busy world with busy lives. If we have to add too many things onto the daily checklist, chances are, something isn’t going to get checked.
In our multi-cultural world, I don’t think I need to highlight all the ways being able to speak multiple languages is advantageous. Now you can take all those advantages and add brain training to the list.
Like learning music, there are loads of ways to make learning languages fun with games and interactive programs. Before I get in trouble for oversimplifying the language learning process, let me clarify that nothing beats immersive language classes with a real, live language teacher. This is just an easy way to add a bit of brain training to your day and pick up a few new words in another language that you can use in your daily interactions.
Gamefying Learning Languages
There are lots of language apps and programs that are pretty fun to use to reinforce your learning. Here are a few we have used that we have enjoyed.
Learning Languages – Memrise
Memrise brags an offering of over 100 languages to choose from, including Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Japanese, Korean, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Arabic, and many more. Using science-backed learning methods and an adaptive engine, it helps you to track your progress and remind you to review your learning at just at the right time. Multiple game modes boost different aspects of your memory to keep you flying high on your learning journey.
- Language courses help you learn languages as they are naturally used by native speakers
- Games, goals and rewards turn language learning into a smooth and easy ride
- Powered by the latest learning technology that guarantees effective learning
- Over 100 languages and topics to choose from, learn any of them for free!
- Access to more learning games
- Includes download of any course for offline use
- Pro features are available monthly, 3-monthly and yearly
Duolingo is a free app that covers lessons on the following languages: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portugese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Turkish, Esperanto, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Welsh, Hebrew, Vietnamese, and Hungarian. This app also allows you to learn languages in a language other than English. Up the ante by competing against your friends for a little competitive motivation.
MindSnacks offers a series of apps for learning languages. Each app offers challenging games designed by education experts. The games teach specific skills and help create a well-rounded learning experience for both children and adults extending well beyond basic flashcards.
MindSnacks unique algorithm reinforces the learning process by using proven methods from the field of memory studies. Over time, the games adapt to individual performance, selectively repeating words, phrases and grammatical points that you have previously struggled. As you progress through the lessons, the app adjusts the program to make it more a effective learning experience.
Whether you are learning the language for pleasure or business, MindSnacks will help with your grammar and vocab so you can become less reliant on a dictionary or translator. Great for beginner and intermediate language learners, MindSnacks can help you work on any of the following languages:
The first lesson is available for free trial. If you like it, you can purchase the entire course of a single language for $4.99 or purchase the All Language Pass for $19.99.
Fluent U allows you to learn Chinese, Spanish, English, French, German, or Japanese. Even though there aren’t as many languages available as the other apps, Fluent U is unique in that you can learn a language by watching videos in that language.
It is unfortunate that this app is only available for Chinese. I thought the lessons were well planned and organised for an app. When you consider that it is free (and also ad-free!) it is pretty hard to beat.
Eurotalk is a software program that teaches basic vocabulary from first words, food, colors, phrases, parts of the body and numbers, to telling time, shopping and countries. Each topic contains listening practice, an easy game, a hard game, a printable dictionary as well as the opportunity to record your voice and hear how you sound compared to the two native speakers tutors. Each question that is answered correctly increases your score – get an answer wrong and points will be lost. There are 1800 points in total to gain from the disc. A full score earns the user a ‘Gold Award’.