Boost your bilingualism by learning a language as part of your degree, says a university professor.

Students should learn a second language while studying at university to help broaden horizons and prevent dementia in later life.

That’s what a language expert from Edinburgh University has claimed recently.

Professor Antonella Sorace, from the Bilingualism Matters Centre at the university says learning a language should be a requirement for every degree.

Previous studies have shown that certain types of dementia appear up to five times later in people that can speak a second language, compared to those that only speak one. It’s thought this is because learning a language activates an area of the brain that delays the onset.

‘Languages should be a requirement for any kind of degree,’ says Professor Sorace. ‘Bilingualism opens the mind in a very, very fundamental way. So knowledge of languages can be of benefit, no matter what you do.’

She was sharing her thoughts during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She went on to share her experiences of a study carried out amongst retired people on the Isle of Skye who were learning Gaelic.

‘They didn’t know a word of Gaelic, so we tested them beforehand and after a week of a very intensive course, five hours a day.

‘Sure enough, when we compared them with other active retired people who were doing a course of something else, not just couch potatoes, we found [that] in those who were doing a language course, the brain responds.

‘Even when you are in your 60s or 70s, your brain responds. We found this one-week intensive language course led to an improvement in cognitive function.’

Now’s the time to book that language course…