Next February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

I originally published this post in 2014.


Photo from Ping Li Lab, Penn State

Regular readers of this blog and/or my books are familiar with how I help students see the physical impact learning new things can have on its brains (see The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning). It has a powerful impact on students.

I use that lesson with my English Language Learners, too, as well as helping them see The Advantages To Being Bilingual Or Multilingual.

Today, though, I learned about a brand new study that found, and shows, the direct physical impact learning a new language has on the brain. Showing those images (see the top of this post and in the links below) and excerpts from the study will really bring the point home to my ELL students.

Here’s a quote from the researcher:


Here are links to and about the study:

Learning languages is a workout for brains, both young and old

Second language experience modulates neural specialization for first language lexical tones

Neural changes underlying successful second language word learning: An fMRI study

Learning a New Language Changes Functionality and Structure of Brain Networks

Neuroplasticity as a function of second language learning: Anatomical changes in the human brain