Does learning a second language happen in the same part of the brain as learning a first language? A lot of things are actually different. For example, vocabulary works different, because in an L2 you make connections between L2 and L1, but in an L1 you make connections with L1 and with physical objects.

1 Answer 1


The same areas of the brain associated with language are used for L1 and L2, however, depending on how the language was learned, they may be used slightly differently:

In multilingual individuals, there is a great deal of similarity in the brain areas used for each of their languages.


Multilingual individuals consistently demonstrate similar activation patterns in the brain when using either one of the two or more languages they fluently know.source

Factors that affect the activation of certain brain regions when using L2 include:

  • Age of L2 acquisition
  • Competence in L2

If the language was learned later in life, especially after the critical period, different parts of Broca's area (speech production area) are stimulated than when speaking L1. source It seems that the language an individual grows up with actually affects the development of Broca's area. source However, stimulation in Wernicke's area (language comprehension area) remains mostly similar across languages, regardless of the age at which L2 was learned. source


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