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Mid-Life Foreign Language Learning

When my mom fell ill with a brain tumour, I had to let go of the cleaning business I had recently set up to look after her. When things got worse, we decided to move her into a local care home for dementia patients. I ended up being offered the role of activities coordinator there and stayed on after the death of my mom.

This was a completely different job for me and I learned a lot about dementia and how it works. I'm obviously not an expert but with the research I did about my mom's glioblastoma and the training on dementia, I started to understand the brain a bit better and became more curious as to how it works.

When you start looking at language and the brain, you will find that learning a foreign language helps increase connectivity. Recent research shows that learning a foreign language can even delay the symptoms of dementia. Some studies have shown that learning a new language in later years shows cognitive benefits beyond languages, such as working memory.

Many older people will say 'I'm too old, my memory is no good. I can't learn a foreign language.' Well, studies show that you can. And not only can you learn a foreign language but it will also help improve your long & short-term memory functions. Oh, and it helps with flexible and creative thinking.

A recurring conversation I have when I'm out and about with the grandkids or networking online goes something like this:

Random middle-aged person: So, what do you do?

Me: I have an online English and foreign language school.

Random middle-aged person: Oh that's interesting, so do you speak a language yourself?

Me: Yeah, I'm pretty fluent in Italian and I have basic French and Spanish knowledge, and English of course. You?

Random middle-aged person: Oh gosh no. I'm too old for that now and my memory is terrible. I would never be able to remember all those new words!

Me: (smiles & thinks about whether to give the random middle-aged person a long list of benefits and sound like I'm trying to convince them or just leave it!)