Current Research on the Impact of Foreign Language Learning Among Healthy Seniors on Their Cognitive Functions From a Positive Psychology Perspective-A Systematic Review

Front Psychol. 2020 Apr 21;11:765. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00765. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

The purpose of this review study is to explore the existing research focusing on the impact of foreign language learning among healthy seniors on their cognitive functions from the positive psychology perspective. The methods are based on a literature review of available sources found on the research topic in two acknowledged databases: Web of Science and Scopus. The search period was not limited by any time period since there are not many studies on this topic. Altogether seven original studies were detected. The findings of this review study thus reveal that foreign language learning (FLL) has a positive impact on the maintenance and/or enhancement of cognitive abilities irrespective of age. In addition, the FLL courses seem to offer new opportunities for healthy seniors in the area of socializing and integration into society, which consequently may positively affect their overall well-being. Furthermore, the research shows that it is partly through the stimulation of social well-being that the cognitive effects of FLL might be observed. Cognitive aspects of older age are to be further investigated, including the importance of learning a foreign language, as basically all research conducted proves at least some maintenance or even improvement of cognitive functions of older people when starting intensive language training.

Keywords: aging; cognitive functions; foreign language learning; older adults; positive psychology.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review