Learning second language can ‘improve health’

A language class organised by Lingo Flamingo takes place in Denny, Stirlingshire

A language class organised by Lingo Flamingo takes place in Denny, Stirlingshire

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A SOCIAL enterprise which promotes the health benefits of learning a second language has been given the seal of approval by Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister attended a launch event for Lingo Flamingo at Govan Workspace in her Glasgow Southside constituency.

It is another illustration of the great talent that we possess here in Scotland to address social challenges in innovative ways

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The group arranges classes for older people to learn a new language as a way of fighting dementia and brain ageing.

The organisation also employs and trains refugees and international students to deliver workshops to vulnerable adults, community groups and local businesses across Glasgow and the central belt.

Lingo Flamingo said there a growing body of evidence that speaking more than one language can delay the onset of dementia by up to five years.

“More generally, learning a second language increases reading comprehension, logic, mathematical skills and memory skills,” said director Robbie Norval.

“Our aims are to make foreign languages more accessible to the general public, advocating the health benefits of learning a language and spreading intercultural awareness and understanding.

“The benefits of learning a new language range from enabling companies to increase their intercultural understanding, allowing them to internationalise and expand to new markets, and aiding in the battle against brain ageing and dementia for older adults.”

A 2015 study by the University of Edinburgh found that learning a second language can improve a person’s thinking skills.

Researchers compared 200 modern languages and humanities students to assess the impact of learning a second language.

It found that students who learned a second language were better at switching attention to filter relevant information.

READ MORE: Why we should all be learning languages

“Lingo Flamingo is a wonderful initiative, making education more accessible to vulnerable members in our society,” said the First Minister.

“It is another illustration of the great talent that we possess here in Scotland to address social challenges in innovative ways”.

Flamingo Lingo is one of a number of third sector organisations now based at the former Fairfields shipyard offices.

Its workshops aim to improve the communication and cognitive development of vulnerable citizens.

“It is a misconception that people later in life cannot learn a new language,” added Norval. “Our aim is to empower vulnerable citizens to fight against brain ageing.

“Traditionally, language teaching is quite regimented and the majority of language teaching takes place in language schools. Our idea is to have community outreach workshops, which are tailored to meet the needs of our customers.”

The organisation has tutor pools across central Scotland and recently led a series of language workshops in Denny, Stirlingshire.

The free workshops included taster session of international foods at local cafes and a “know how guide” in a selection of foreign languages.

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