The brain-boosting benefits of learning English as a second language
Share this on

The brain-boosting benefits of learning English as a second language

The current global population stands at seven billion people. An ever growing populace brings with it a rich diversity of culture, and it’s this that has allowed a Universal communication to flourish. The advantages of learning a second language are abundant; from breaking social boundaries, to exercising mental muscles you nearly forgot you had– the realm of multilingualism presents an undeniable wealth of opportunity.

With over 360 million people speaking English across the world, it is not surprising that the language has been accepted as the global lingua franca. Dubbed the language of business, its international presence has also earned it the title of the world’s most influential language. Global communication is now predominantly done in English, making it necessary for anyone who wishes to work, or study, in an English speaking country to have a fluent grasp of the vocabulary- after all, global communication could not exist without a global understanding!

Whether your reasons for learning a new language fall under business or leisure, the social and academic benefits you’ll reap will be endless. Learning ESL can transform a nervous caterpillar into a dazzling social butterfly, but also it has been shown to boost our brains to a near superhuman level:

1. Learning ESL gives us the ability to communicate in a new language.

Okay, so it might be stating the obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less important! When a person commits to learning English, or any other language, the main benefit is the ability to communicate in the language itself. Being exposed to multiple languages leads to increased sensitivity and a keen ear for familiar sounds; this means that multilingualism enhances our global understanding, and allows us to forge connections with a much broader range of the world’s population.


In the classroom. Pic: IECP Pennsylvania State University

2. When learning ESL, the brain experiences a change in electrical activity.

Before 2009, it was widely believed that this change in brain function could only occur when a student had reached a high level of ability in learning a new language. However, a study by the European Commission called The Contribution of Multilingualism to Creativity showed that this change can occur even in the earliest stages of language learning. Learning ESL alters the structure of your brain, making all those neural pathways much stronger and more efficient. Every time you learn something new, you exercise your mind, and the brain-boosting benefits can be felt at any age.

3. Learning a second language greatly improves our memory.

Language learning increases mental capacity, particularly within our short-term memory store. Those who speak more than one language have superior memory function because their brains can hold on to information for long periods of time while their thinking processes are activated.


Have fun studying English. Pic: ELS, UAlberta

4. Studying a second language increases our mental agility.

Language learning is a lot like going for a run- only with much less sweat and no stench of disappointment…It is literally exercise for the brain, allowing certain mental pathways to remain open so that the individual has access to different trains of thought. Amazing, right?

5. Learning ESL will improve your problem solving abilities.

Language learning increases our abstract thinking skills, concept formation, capacity to identify, and has also been shown to tickle the creative flare. Learning a new language takes discipline and focus; to be successful you have to filter out distractions, and this greatly increases our ability to multi-task.

Learning ESL provides us with a greater understanding of how language is used, and fills us with potential that is internationally recognised, and a good grasp on English starts with getting stuck in and learning. Read on for information on some of the leading institutions offering world-class ESL programs that will help you achieve your goals:


Southern Illinois University (SIU) is a diverse and welcoming university, based in Illinois in the USA. The Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) at SIU has a proud history, dating back to 1966. With 50 years of experience offering excellent English Language courses, CESL offers international students the chance to improve their English skills and to be part of American student life. Students learn through a mix of high quality teaching and fun lessons, and are able to develop the skills and knowledge they need to do well in their further studies. The Intensive English Program is an 8 week course that includes between 18 to 25 hours per week of studying in the classroom and taking part in lessons. Read the full profile…


Located in State College, Pennsylvania, a place more fondly known as “Happy Valley”, Pennsylvania State University is a safe and particularly beautiful place to study & live. The IECP at Pennsylvania State University is a premiere intensive English Language program. The IECP coursework provides students with the linguistic skills and cultural knowledge to participate in undergraduate and graduate programs, and serves as excellent preparation for both the TOEFL and IELTS exams. The course is accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) and belongs to English USA, the American Association of Intensive English Programs. Read the full profile…


The University of Alberta’s English Language School is popular among English language learners from around the globe. The School is known as an excellent academic institution for English language training, and the Bridging Program has a proven track record of helping students realize their academic potential. Ranked 84th in the world, UAlberta is a prestigious public university in Canada.  UAlberta attracts, recruits, and welcomes the best and brightest minds to undergraduate and graduate programs. Edmonton – National Geographic’s choice of summer destination in 2015 – is a safe and multicultural city. At UAlberta, students are offered a vibrant and dynamic learning experience. Read the full profile…


Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) is located in the vibrant college town of Americus, Georgia. GSW’s pretty campus is situated in a safe and secure neighbourhood, packed with friendly people both on campus, and in the local community. It is a University rich in tradition, abundant in energy and alive with opportunity. The English Language Institute (ELI) at GSW provides English Language courses for international students with a desire to study in Georgia. The ELI at GSW offers options for short and long-term English language study throughout the academic year. Whether you require a short period of study to develop your English communication skills, or aim to expand your academic English skills with a long-term intensive program, the ELI can cater to your specific needs. Read the full profile…


Established on the California State University, Chico campus in 1979, the American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI Chico) has successfully provided intensive English language education for thousands of students from more than 90 countries around the world. The ALCI Chico curriculum includes specialized core courses (speaking, listening, reading, writing, and grammar) and a choice of electives such as pronunciation, American idioms, cross-cultural awareness, business English, survival English, and academic preparation. ALCI Chico offers five sessions of intensive English instruction per year to students of all proficiency levels, from beginning to advanced.