It seems the benefits of speaking multiple languages extend past just having access to different words, concepts, metaphors, and frames.
After 15 years of research it appears that bilinguals have access to better job prospects, as well as receiving a cognitive boost and protection against dementia. New research shows that they can also view the world in different ways depending on the specific language they are operating in.
For instance, an English-speaking German looks at a picture of a woman outside a shop. In German they would say it was a picture of a woman walking toward the supermarket. They'd say the same thing in English. An English-speaking person would say it's a picture of a woman walking. The German language includes the woman's intent.
One theory on why this might be shows an increased psychological distance when speaking a language that isn’t your mother tongue. Researchers think subjects had less of an emotional reaction to things heard in their second (or third, or fourth) language, perhaps allowing for a more levelheaded decision.
Whatever the reason, speaking a second language helps the brain remain flexible.
I attended classes at school in the 50s, but didn't learn anything but the basics of French and Latin. Too busy fantasizing about my future life—silly girl. I love the sound of spoken French. I wonder if I've left it too late to learn a bit more.
How many languages do you speak?