I'm mainly thinking about brain stimulation that takes place when learning new languages (particularly very different languages e.g. oriental vis-a-vis western languages).

You learn quite a few new patterns of thinking and new ways to see the world so is there some evidence that it actually makes you learn other subjects (even not related to language) more easily?

1 Answer 1


Literature on that matter is plentiful. Before you browse randomly on the Internet I would suggest you start by having a look at the references on the website of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages that will give academic references under the following headings:

  • Language learning correlates with higher academic achievement on standardized test measures.
  • Language learning is beneficial to both monolingual English and English language learners in bilingual and two-way immersion programs.
  • There is evidence that language learners transfer skills from one language to another.
  • There is a correlation between second language learning and increased linguistic awareness.
  • There is a correlation between language learning and students’ ability to hypothesize in science.
  • Language learning can benefit all students. There is a correlation between young children’s second language development and the development of print awareness.
  • Heritage learners who use their language skills to interpret and translate for family members experience higher academic performance and greater self-efficacy .
  • There is a correlation between language study and higher scores on the SAT and ACT Tests.
  • There is a correlation between high school foreign language study and higher academic performance at the college level.

You will find more references on the website of The International Federation of Language Teachers.

I recommend as well those two articles published on The Conversation :
- Keeping actively bilingual makes our brains more efficient at relaying information
- Explainer: how are learning languages and music linked?

This answer was made ignoring the word "intelligence" you use in the title of your question that could be subject to controversy and considering the core of your question is more precise.

  • 3
    There's correlation between being good at learning languages and being good at learning other subjects. Ok. But does that mean that learning languages is beneficial, or is it just the case that people who are good at learning tend to be good at multiple subjects, including languages? In other words, what evidence is there that a given person would get better at other topics if they learn multiple languages, as opposed to a person who is generally good at learning being good at learning a language if they set their mind to it? Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 13:59
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    @Gilles I entirely agree with you, that's why I'm not giving an opinion but only referring to what is said. The only scientific studies that have been made on the beneficial effects of language learning to brain activity is in correlation to the onset of dementia, where one could say that thinking in two languages simultaneously challenges brain activity.
    – None
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 14:21
  • @Laure in short, there is correlation but not necessarily causation. Maybe language learners are already intelligent to begin with so they do well in other areas, even before learning other languages.
    – Felipe
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 21:12
  • @FelipeAlmeida I think you missed the end of my answer where I say I was ignoring the word "intelligence" OP had used in the title of his question. I personally think that a language won't make you more "intelligent" (word to be defined) it will just develop some types of brain agility that can be reused in other areas and that can be got learning something else than languages anyway.
    – None
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 6:13

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