Posted on: January 9, 2021 Posted by: Jsargent Comments: 0

A new foreign language like Tamil, French, Mandarin, etc…allows you to communicate with people around the world, add another line to your résumé (and what one!), Or broaden your personal and cultural horizons. But it also enriches something else – namely your memory. It is important to be able to rely on it when learning a language. But conversely, learning a foreign language can also train your memory, every day. Memory and the learning process are inextricably linked, there is no question about that. But how exactly can a language help us train our memories? Let’s look at 4 studies, each of which revolves around the brain, memory, and language learning.

Memory training through language learning:

4 studies showing how the brain, memory, and language learning interact

It is too often forgotten, but actually playing an instrument and speaking a foreign language are two activities that take up our memory and keep our brain fit. Because yes, if you want to play a little piece on the piano for your friends, you need your brain, or more precisely, your memory. It’s no different than when an English-speaking tourist stops you on the street and asks you how to get to the nearest post office (in English, of course!). Scientific studies have shown that both activities have an effect on our gray cells and our memory.

PS: If you play a musical instrument, then I regret to inform you that this will no longer be an issue in the following …

Learn languages ​​and …

1) … make memory marks!

When we learn a new language, the information is encoded in our brain. Scientists use the term memory or memory traces to describe what is stored in our memory. It can be information, a word, or a memory. In order for these memory traces to remain in our brain in the long term, they have to go through three stations.

The first stop is coding. Information is received, and memory traces are immediately formed in the brain.

The next phase is consolidation, during which the information is stored.

Finally comes the retrieval phase. From now on we use what we have learned to remember information.

This last phase of retrieval is directly related to our memory and its utilization. Does that mean that memory and the learning process are related? In fact, they are inseparable! In short, this phase allows us to refer to the information in our memory at any time and also to renew it. Over time, our memory is trained and improved in this phase. That is why we regularly remind you of the importance of repeating vocabulary you have just learned. In order to be able to store the words in the long-term memory, they have to be called up again and again … in order to carry out the decisive third phase.

It is interesting that the ability to form memory traces is not limited in time. This means that all information received goes through these three stations, no matter how old we are. So refreshing our memories by retrieving a recently formed memory trail happens the same way when we are 20 or 50 years old. In other words: there is no “right” age to learn a language!

2. … reduce memory loss!

So if language learning takes up our memory and brain, it may not be surprising that a study found that if we learn more than two languages ​​in the course of our lives, this can protect our brain from memory loss. If you want to take a closer look, the study was published in ScienceDaily in 2011.

Let’s summarize the study briefly: it was carried out on 230 women and men in Luxembourg who were on average 73 years old. All spoke at least 2 languages. Of these 230 test subjects, 44 suffered from memory loss. What is particularly interesting is that the researchers found that people who had learned two to four foreign languages ​​in their lifetime were 5 times less likely to develop a memory loss-related disease than those who had learned other than their native language mastered another language. The trilingual test subjects were 3 times less likely than bilingual persons. In other words: learning more than two languages ​​can protect our brain from problems associated with memory loss.


3. … and activate all areas of the brain!

One often hears that language learning activates two areas of our brain, namely the Broca area and the Wernicke area. But 3D images of our gray cells show that we decipher a language and its words in very different ways … and that not just two, but several areas are used.

The study was conducted by researchers from Berkeley University in the United States carried out. With the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they recorded the brain activities of 6 test subjects. Alex Huth, the lead scientist, also made himself available as a test subject. For two hours, all participants listened attentively to a radio broadcast in which several people had their say. They told of sad, happy or even frightening situations in their lives. By recording brain activity, you could see that different words activated different areas – if a word was repeated, it was always the same brain area that was activated. For example, the words “family”, “mother”, “home” stimulated a part of the brain located above the right ear. To make it clear to you again: at least a third of our brains are activated and involved in processing sounds and words. 

Take a look at this fascinating project in this video:

What this study particularly proves: the processing of a word (regardless of whether it is already known or newly learned) activates several areas of the brain. And what stimulates our brain trains our memory.

4. … meet the three types of memory according to Anderson!

Finally, we all probably know that there are three different types of memory: one speaks of ultra-short-term, short-term, and long-term memory. The learning theory to Anderson divided the latter in more detail into three categories. He designed what can be called a general learning model. According to this model, we use several aspects of our memory when we learn a complex gesture (or even a language).

There is procedural memory, often referred to as behavioral memory. Following Anderson’s theory, this is where the syntax is processed.

In semantic memory storage takes place of words and sentences … it helps us to memorize our general knowledge.

We also have a declarative memory, which is often called personal memory. It consists of everything that we have experienced or done.

Finally, once again: learning and memory are inseparable. Whether you are learning a new language or brushing up on an already familiar one, you are sure to activate your brain. They train your memory. So, get started right away: you can find Tamil home tuition at

Leave a Comment