Learning Chinese Characters a New Language Makes You Smarter
A few years ago, I watched a video on an online platform. It was about the benefits of having a bilingual or multilingual brain. I strongly recommend you to watch this cool TED video The benefits of a bilingual brain – Mia Nacamulli.
The most direct benefit of having bilingual skills is so much more than stronger communication skills and understanding skills, allowing you to travel abroad, watch movies, and chat with foreigners without obstacles. In fact, in addition to the above-mentioned advantages, learning or using a second language actually changes our brain development.
When learning the mother tongue in childhood, the left and right temporal lobes are used together. This is because the plasticity of the children’s brain is strong; while the adults use the left temporal lobe when learning languages, because most people will have the lateralization of the brain function, refers to the phenomenon that a certain function of the body begins to be taken care of by a specific hemisphere. Generally speaking, the left hemisphere dominates rational logical analysis and mainly dominates language expression and understanding; the right hemisphere is more active in emotional and social aspects and dominates the space Perceptual function.
Although most adults use the left brain when learning a language, the learning and use of another language is actually a whole-brain exercise. Some scholars have observed the language ability of patients with brain injury and found that the left hemisphere is damaged, which not only destroys the language ability but also damages the abstract ability of logical analysis. The injury in the right hemisphere does not have much impact on vocabulary skills but has significant obstacles in understanding and reasoning. Language and spatial perception are respectively governed by the left and right hemispheres, but high-level brain functions such as abstract reasoning thinking, logical analysis, and other abilities are shared by the two hemispheres.
Studies have shown that using multiple languages can increase the density of gray matter in the brain. Gray matter is where a large number of neurons gather, and its main function is to receive and process brain information. Using multiple languages can activate multiple different brain regions at the same time. This brain exercise can enhance memory and even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have shown that multilingual speakers can reduce the switching cost during task switching, and therefore can more effectively complete multiple tasks within the time limit.
Stroop task has been used to study the brain concentration of multilingual ability. In this test and another similar test, the Flanker task, multilingual ability people perform better than monolingual ability testers.
Since learning a new foreign language has so many advantages, which language should you choose?
Here I recommend everyone to opt for learning Chinese characters and language. Acquiring Chinese in this day and age promises dramatic results.
The real question is, why shouldn’t you learn Chinese?
Some people may share different opinions on learning the language for how hard it supposedly is. But the truth is, of all the things you can do with your spare time, learning Mandarin Chinese is one of the absolute best investments you can make. Whether you’re looking for a new academic pursuit, new career skills, or a new perspective on life, there are few activities likely to have the same huge payoff, and most importantly, it improves your brain intelligence greatly.
So don’t just take my word for it—read on and discover why you really should be dropping everything and learning Chinese characters!
Learning Chinese characters brings you various benefits
Before I talk about how Chinese is different from other languages, I will let you know some general benefits you can get from learning Chinese.
Communicate with over 1 billion people instantly
As we mentioned, Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world. Anywhere you travel or live on Earth, you’re bound to spot a fellow Chinese speaker around you. Learning Chinese will instantly open up communication abilities to over 1.2B people and this number is growing quickly.
Open up new job opportunities everywhere
The ability to communicate to over one billion people has major value in the job marketplace. Of course, this includes companies in China and other Mandarin-speaking countries that you can apply to.
Companies all around the world are striving to tap into the Chinese marketplace, and you’ll immediately differentiate yourself if you can speak Mandarin.
Appreciate Chinese food as you’ve never had before
Love dim sum, wontons, fried rice, all delicious exotic Chinese food? So do we.
When it comes to evaluating the quality of Chinese restaurants, the number one signal is to observe how much English is on the menu. The less it is, the more authentic the food may be.
With that said, if you truly want to order with confidence at a Chinese restaurant, you’d need to learn the basics of Chinese.
Gain a competitive advantage in the business world
Beyond just gaining a leg up in your career, learning Chinese is just smart for business. Whether you’re a business owner yourself or looking to get into business, the future of business will be in China. Whether you like it or not, China is the first place any great business will look to if they want to go international.
This is your opportunity to jump ahead of the curve!
Build stronger relationships with your Chinese co-workers and friends
From college friends to co-workers, you’re bound to have a native Chinese speaker in your life. If not, you’re about to have one soon.
While English is widely taught and spoken amongst Chinese speakers, few can actually speak it with confidence. It’s going to be many decades before the majority of Chinese speakers can speak your language, and that’s being conservative. Beyond the relationships you can form in real life, there’s even a greater need in the online space. Unlike other countries, the Chinese government places strict regulations on letting consumers use non-Chinese applications.
Examples include using Youku instead of YouTube, Wechat instead of WhatsApp, and that social networks like Facebook are not available for use.
Enjoy Chinese movies, TV shows, and music authentically
With production companies like Alibaba Pictures, Tencent Pictures, and more coming into the global scene, Chinese entertainment is accelerating at a rapid pace. This is growing faster with the advent of distribution channels like Netflix and Prime Video.
While subtitles exist for Chinese movies and TV shows, translations may not always make sense directly, especially if you love Chinese web novels. If you want to authentically enjoy these entertainment forms at their highest quality, your best bet is to learn the language.
Travel with confidence anywhere (not just China)
Planning to travel to Asia sometime soon? That’s right, learning Chinese is what will help you get around easily. Even if you don’t plan to travel to a country where Mandarin is an official language, people from China are always visiting and migrating there.
You’ll also find that signs, menus, and other communication are provided with Chinese translations everywhere you go in Asia to accommodate the millions of Chinese travelers.
Learning Chinese characters and language is not as hard as you think
But don’t let that intimidate you. Despite the difference in Chinese characters, most people overestimate how difficult it is to learn. Yes, there are challenges to learning Chinese. The biggest is probably because while English uses phonetic writing, Chinese is composed of pictograms and semi-phonetic ideograms.
The good news is, this is the hardest thing about Chinese. There are also things you don’t have to learn, like tenses, cases, genders, or other simple grammar which are required for most other languages.
Given how much time a new language learner normally spends on learning genders, tenses, and other grammar rules, you’ll bypass all of that when you decide to learn Chinese.
There are more Chinese learning resources than ever
Perhaps, more importantly, are the resources available to you. With Chinese being the most spoken language in the world, it also comes with powerful learning options.
Pandanese, as an example, connects you with real professional native-speaking Chinese teachers from the comforts of your home. In just a few clicks, you can connect via a live 1-on-1 Mandarin lesson with a teacher who will personalize your learning experience. It’s like having a best friend to help you speak Chinese with confidence.
Then there are free apps like YouTube videos and podcasts that you can immerse yourself in between your lessons. It’s never been easier to learn a new language like Chinese.
Learning Chinese Characters Improves Your Brain Development
Besides the above advantages learning Chinese brings to you. The most important benefit is that Learning Chinese Characters will improve your intelligence and brain development. It can help you become a better and smarter person!
Chinese has a distinctively different effect on the brain
If you speak Chinese, your brain works differently from others. That’s according to a recent study published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences. The different result is because Chinese speakers use tones to distinguish different words and their meanings. The report is the first to conclude that those who speak Chinese exhibit a very different flow of information during speech comprehension, the tones, sounds, and script of Chinese require the use of both hemispheres of the brain rather than just the left, which has long been seen as the primary neurological region for processing language.
Learning Chinese improves brain intelligence and image thinking
Chinese can make people smarter in the most basic second language and can also improve the brain’s image thinking.
A study from New Zealand found that “native Chinese and English speakers treat numbers with different cortical parts of the brain,” and concluded that different language systems such as Chinese and English shape the way non-language information is processed. In more than six years, this joint research has shown that, unlike Roman phonetic characters, Chinese characters help the brain’s image thinking training.
Improve the ability of the brain to process information
In another experiment, which started in 1996, 200 European and Chinese students of the same educational level were tested. They were asked to recite a series of numbers, letters, and colors. The results show that Chinese students far outperform European students in terms of memory. Chinese students seem to be better at processing information than European students.
Learning to handwrite Chinese characters make you smarter
By aiding in the development of motor skills, learning shapes and letters, and the visual identification of graphics, learning handwriting in Chinese also seems to make you smarter. Unlike English, which is mostly linear and written from left to right, Chinese characters have a complex structure. Writing characters involves strokes in several directions with sequential movements. These movements activate neural activity in the working, thinking, and spatial memory of the brain.
Evidence also indicates that learning Chinese makes you better at math. Researchers from New Zealand observed that children whose native language is Chinese appear to gain a greater understanding of mathematical concepts than their English-speaking counterparts. During the natural acquisition process of Chinese, the student is learning and reinforcing basic mathematical concepts. Character writing involves skills such as counting, grouping, ordering, and identifying similarities and differences, which are essentially math skills.
Chinese may train a host of cognitive abilities not utilized in the study of other languages
New evidence also suggests that learning Chinese may train a host of cognitive abilities not utilized in the study of other languages.
The research on cognition and Chinese language learning is not comprehensive or exhaustive, it does suggest that the cognitive benefits of learning Chinese are significant and merit further study.
Chinese can speed up the reaction of English speakers
A recent scientific study has shown that learning Chinese can speed up the reaction of English speakers. A six-year study conducted by scientists from Germany and China showed that the brains of Chinese people react faster than Europeans. And for those who are learning Mandarin—including Mark Zuckerberg and Prince William—you may notice that your brains are getting just a little bit faster and working harder to crack this new difficult-to-learn language.
As China’s global influence has intensified, schools and companies in the English circle are eager to increase their contacts with China.
Learning Chinese characters can help people across all age groups to gain advantages and can greatly benefit their brain development. Especially, children can benefit from learning Chinese early on during cognitive development that helps with particular skill sets relating to the brain intelligence.
Learning a language is anyway said to be very good for the brain. But Chinese as a language is greater for brain development and the same cannot be said for other languages that are more linear in form.
But most of all, enjoy your language learning, pick one that you’re interested in, and know you’re doing a good thing for yourself!