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Reframe Your Mind: Learn a Foreign Language

It seems like every couple of days there is a new article about the power of learning a foreign language. Bilingualism literally reshapes your brain by increasing the number of connections in your corpus callosum. But growing evidence suggests that learning a new language might provide even more tangible changes to your mental state. Researchers at the University of Toronto studied a group of over 400 native Germans to see if there were any differences in the thought patterns of individuals who only knew German versus those who knew more than one language. What the researchers found was fascinating: the participants in the study who knew a second language were able to reframe their mind to reduce the influence of superstitions. You can read more about the methods of this fascinating study here.

This study is an incredible step in our understanding of the way our mental models are constructed. Superstition does not seem to be tied to language but, at its core, it is. When we think in another language, we remove ourselves from the context of that language. When you speak in your own language, you are contextually surrounded by the cultural influences that shaped how you learned the language. The implications here are vast: language is an extremely powerful and deeply fundamental aspect of the human identity. Language shapes the way the brain forms and grows, shapes the way we view the world, and even connects us to deeply rooted cultural influences like superstitions. By learning a foreign language, you are expanding your mind in a different way than you can through any other means: you are changing the way you experience reality.

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