Sharpen Your Mind and Delay Decline: How Learning a Language Can Be Your Brain’s Best Friend


Research increasingly shows that developing new lifestyle choices can promote brain health and potentially delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While they are complex medical conditions with no guaranteed cures, studies have shown that bilinguals exhibited a delay in the onset of dementia by an average of 4.5 years.

The Bilingual Advantage:
Studies have consistently shown that bilingual individuals tend to develop dementia later in life compared to their monolingual counterparts. A 2021 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that bilinguals exhibited a delay in the onset of dementia by an average of 4.5 years. This remarkable finding suggests that speaking multiple languages may offer a form of “cognitive reserve,” essentially making the brain more resilient to the neuropathological changes associated with dementia.

Brainpower Boost:
The process of learning a new language is a mental workout that engages various cognitive domains. Juggling grammar rules, vocabulary, and pronunciation demands focus, attention, and memory, all of which are crucial for overall cognitive health. As you navigate the complexities of a new language, your brain forms new neural pathways, strengthens existing connections, and enhances its ability to multitask and switch between different mental processes.

Beyond Vocabulary:
The benefits of language learning extend far beyond simply memorizing words and phrases. Studies have shown that bilingual individuals exhibit improved performance in tasks involving executive function, attention control, and problem-solving. They also tend to be more adept at multitasking and switching between different tasks efficiently. These cognitive skills are not only essential for daily life but also play a crucial role in maintaining mental agility and cognitive resilience as we age.

The Joy of Discovery:
Learning a new language is not just about cognitive benefits; it’s also a rewarding and enriching experience that can bring joy, cultural awareness, and a sense of accomplishment. Immersing yourself in a new language opens doors to new cultures, perspectives, and ways of thinking. It allows you to connect with people from different backgrounds and broaden your understanding of the world. The sense of satisfaction and achievement gained from mastering a new language can further enhance your mood and overall well-being, which are essential factors for cognitive health.

Getting Started:
The good news is that it’s never too late to reap the cognitive benefits of language learning. Regardless of your age or prior language experience, there are numerous resources available to help you embark on this enriching journey. Language learning apps, online courses, local community classes, and even language exchange programs offer flexible and engaging ways to learn a new language at your own pace.

Remember:

  • Consistency is key: Dedicate regular time to language learning, even if it’s just for short periods each day.
  • Find your learning style: Explore different methods and resources to find what works best for you.
  • Embrace the challenge: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; view them as opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Make it fun: Choose a language that interests you and find ways to incorporate it into your daily life.

By embracing the challenge of learning a new language, you’re not just expanding your communication skills; you’re also investing in your brain health and potentially delaying the onset of age-related cognitive decline. 

Remember, your brain is a lifelong learner, and it’s never too late to give it the gift of a new language. To find out more about our online, custom and personal Spanish language lessons click here for more information.

Your Personal Goals and How to Achieve Them in the New Year


Many of us are frustrated when we look back at the goals we set at the beginning of the year and see how many of them are unfulfilled. Here are some thoughts about how to achieve your goals and some ideas about what some of them could be.

Stay Motivated:

Think small: Want to lose weight? That’s great, but break your goal into small pieces. If you want to lose 20lbs, break it up into 5lb segments. Training for a race? Start by running a distance you feel comfortable with and increase it over time, so you won’t feel like you’re defeated before you start.

Keep Track: Chart your progress. There will be ups and downs but stick with it! Two pounds  is TWO pounds!  An additional 100 yards in the same time frame is progress.

Celebrate your successes and stay positive: Talk about your successes to friends and family, they’ll give you positive feedback which will motivate you even more.

Find an accountability partner: Pick someone you trust and can be honest with you. Maybe someone that has the same goals so you can relate to each other’s struggles and accomplishments.

Cut yourself a break: This has two meanings – don’t be too hard on yourself, be realistic and keep your eye on the prize. And take a small break every once in a while; have a slice of pizza, skip a day’s training, but be sure and get back to fulfilling your goal right away.

Here Are Some Personal Goals You Might Find Interesting:

Of course, top of the list is learning a new language!

Learn a new hobby or skill – paint, garden, woodworking, learn a musical instrument.

Write a journal – Entries don’t have to be long, detail your daily highs and lows and when you look back, you’ll be able to see patterns that can help motivate you in attaining your goals.

Take a class – check out courses at local schools or online. Learn history, literature, art, coding, music.

Here are some self-improvement ideas:

Meditation or Mindfulness – meditation and mindfulness can reduce stress and help you focus. You can try it yourself, or here are some apps to help get you started:

Time Management – Do you ever wonder at the end of the day where all those hours went? Using a planner, whether physical or online, can help you fill in the time gaps and schedule the mundane things you have to do to spend your time more efficiently so you can achieve your goals.

Read More – Focus on what you’re interested in – be it fiction or non-fiction. Find a book club that reads the kind of books you’re interested in. It’s a great way to meet new people with parallel interests.

Staying motivated to achieve your goals isn’t easy, especially with the time demands in today’s world, but be practical and select what gives you fulfillment, break it up into practical steps and periods of time, and soon you’ll integrate something that’s important to you into your daily life.

One of the best ways to keep your mind active, learn about other cultures and expand your horizons is by learning a second language. For personal, online Spanish lessons at any level, click here for more information. Happy New Year – Feliz Año Nuevo

The Day of the Dead- It’s Not Halloween!


Day of the Dead—or Día de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico, Latin America and the United States to honor those those loved ones that have passed. Though Halloween and Day of the Dead are celebrated close together (Day of the Dead is on November 1 and 2), the two holidays aren’t connected. Halloween has Celtic roots and Day of the Dead traces its origins to the Aztecs, Mayans and Toltecs in Central America and Mexico. After the Spanish arrived the ritual period was finalized on the days of two Spanish holidays – All Saints Day and All Souls Day – November 1st and 2nd.

In spite of its morbid name, the Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, not death. The indigenous people that originated the celebration believed that death was was the beginning of new life when the spirits of the dead temporarily join the living. So the holiday is an opportunity to remember those who have departed with music and dancing.

Day of the Dead has it’s own symbols, just like Halloween, but instead of ghosts, pumpkins, skeletons, witches and black cats, the symbols are Monarch Butterflies (believed to hold the spirits of loved ones), Calaveritas de azucar (Sugar skulls), paper banners and a marigold native to Mexico who’s strong scent and bright colors create a path that leads the spirits from the afterlife to the family home. There, and at gravesites, the families sometimes create alters (ofrendas) as locations to celebrate.

The ofrendas are decorated with offerings to the spirits that represent the four elements: Fire – candles, water – to quench the thirst of the spirits, earth – traditional foods, and wind – the paper banners (paper picado) that have cut-outs to allow the souls to pass through.

Halloween has lost its spiritual beginnings, it’s now a night for children, candy and parties, but the spiritual roots of Día de los Muertos are still strong as people join in celebration of the memories and spirits of those they have lost.

Are you ready to start learning Spanish? Click here to schedule your personal, individual or group lessons.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month – September 15 – October 15


Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to U.S. society and culture. The observance was born in 1968, when Congress authorized the president to issue an annual proclamation designating National Hispanic Heritage Week. Two decades later, lawmakers expanded it to a monthlong celebration, stretching from September 15 to October 15.

The timing is key. Hispanic Heritage Month — like its shorter precursor — always starts on September 15, a historically significant day that marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. On September 16 in Dolores Mexico, a Roman Catholic priest ran church bells that triggered the announcement of the Mexican War of Independence which resulted in freedom for the New Spain Colony. The event is called the Cry of Dolores (Grito de Dolores).The designated period is also a nod to those from Mexico and Chile, which celebrate their independence September 16 and September 18, respectively.

Here’s a recipe to help you celebrate – it includes everything for shrimp tacos – Guacamole, Pico de Gallo and more.

To find other ways to celebrate check it out HERE

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by starting your Spanish Lessons today. Click HERE to find out more.

The Most Mispronounced Places in the World


Because we are a language education company, we always pay attention to correct pronunciation. It’s not always easy though. This list shows the most searched places in the world for correct pronunciation. You’ll be surprised at some of them – we were!

For correct pronunciation, conversation and grammar in Spanish, Italian and English, click HERE to get more information on our individual and corporate classes.

  1. Cannes, France
    Correct pronunciation: KAN or KAN-uh
    Incorrect: CON or CONZ or CON-es
  2. River Thames, London, England
    Correct pronunciation: TEMZ
    Incorrect: THAYMZ
  3. Yosemite National Park, USA
    Correct pronunciation: yoh-SEH-muh-dee or yoh-SEH-muh-tee
    Incorrect: yoh-SEH-mi-nee or YOH-se-might
  4. Louvre Museum, Paris, France
    Correct pronunciation: LOO-vruh
    Incorrect: LOOV or LOO-vray or LOO-vraa or LOO-ver
  5. Versailles, France
    Correct pronunciation: vair-SIGH
    Incorrect: ver-SALES or ver-SAY-les
  6. Seychelles, East Africa
    Correct pronunciation: SAY-shellz
    Incorrect: say-CHE-les
  7. Ibiza, Spain
    Correct pronunciation: ee-BEE-tha
    Incorrect: ih-BEE-za or eye-BEE-tha or ee-BEE-za
  8. Phuket, Thailand
    Correct pronunciation: poo-KET
    Incorrect: FUE-ket or fue-KET or FUH-ket
  9. Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda
    Correct pronunciation: an-TEE-guh
    Incorrect: an-TEE-gwah
  10. Dubai, UAE
    Correct pronunciation: doo-BAY
    Incorrect: doo-BYE
  11. Oaxaca, Mexico
    Correct pronunciation: wah-HAH-kah
    Incorrect: OAK-suh-kuh or oh-AX-uh-cuh
  12. Maldives
    Correct pronunciation: MULL-deevz
    Incorrect: mal-DIVES or MAL-deevz or MOLE-deevz
  13. Laos
    Correct pronunciation: LOUSE (like “blouse”) or LOU (like “loud”)
    Incorrect: LAY-os or LA-ose or LOSS
  14. Beijing, China
    Correct pronunciation: bay-JING
    Incorrect: beige-ING
  15. Seoul, South Korea
    Correct pronunciation: SUH-ool or SOLE
    Incorrect: SEE-ole or see-ULE
  16. Reykjavik, Iceland
    Correct pronunciation: RAKE-yah-veek
    Incorrect: RAKE-juh-vick
  17. Worcester, England (or Massachusets!)
    Correct pronunciation: WUSS-tuh or WUSS-ter
    Incorrect: WAR-chest-er or WAR-cess-ter
  18. Budapest, Hungary
    Correct pronunciation: boo-da-PESHT
    Incorrect: boo-da-PEST or BOO-da-pest
  19. Qatar
    Correct pronunciation: KUH-ter
    Incorrect: kuh-TAAR or KAT-aar
  20. Edinburgh, Scotland
    Correct pronunciation: ED-in-bruh or ED-in-bur-uh
    Incorrect: ED-in-berg or ED-in-buh-row or EED-in-berg

Happy Spring!


Spring arrives this year at 5:24pm on March 20, but in many parts of the country, the mild winter has caused flowers and trees to bloom early, so many of us have seen our daffodils and and forsythia go into bloom already.

Technically, what is spring? The vernal equinox occurs when the sun is positioned exactly over the equator, making day and night an equal length. Even though it seems like spring has come early to some of us, astronomy says we have to wait until 5:24 on March 20 for it to be official.

So what’s the difference between a solstice and an equinox? The seasons change because the earth is tilted and different points on the planet get different amounts of sunlight at different times of the year. If the planet wasn’t tilted the sun would always be over the equator and there wouldn’t be any seasons. 

The two solstices occur in June (the longest day), and December, (the shortest day) – the days when the sun is farthest north or south of the equator. The two equinoxes occur when the sun is exactly over the equator.

But we experience spring (la primavera) with our minds and senses, not by an astronomical chart. We look on this season as a time of rebirth, of color and growth. Did you know that learning a foreign language can grow and exercise your mind? Learning a new language is a great brain workout.

Sign up for Spanish language classes at any level HERE, or CONTACT US for more information.

¡Feliz primavera!

Learning Something New is Good for Your Brain


Research has shown that learning a new skill is good for you! It helps you focus, be in the moment, reduce stress and calm down. In other words, it gives your brain a chance to get out of your normal routine and relax.

Learning new things or acquiring new skills is not just for the young. A common assumption is that once we’re not children we stop learning, but new research has shown that we can learn, change and develop new skills as we age. A good combination of physical, mental and social attributes contribute to the best activities to learn and develop your brain.

But we’re all busy, right? How do we fit one more thing into our schedule? Remember, you’re doing this for you so treat it like the other important things in your life: Take a class – you’ll have to show up. Focus on one activity, that way you won’t be cluttering your mind with too much input. Schedule time to practice. Think of your practice time as an appointment that you have to keep, like a doctor’s appointment, haircut, or business meeting.

Look for an activity that focuses on specific skills: painting, learning an instrument or learning a new language. If you’re athletically inclined, take up a new sport or get more proficient at one you already participate in. A 2013 study showed that adults who did new complex activities performed better on long term memory tests than people who worked on crossword puzzles and reading.

Here’s a link to some research results.

Learning a new language or improving your current skills is a great brain workout. It encourages you to think differently, and uses different parts of your brain to encode new mental processes. So put down that crossword puzzle and contact Luminoso Language Services to start or improve your Spanish or Italian speaking skills today. It’s fun, educational and will keep your mind active and healthy.

Happy New Year! (¡Feliz año nuevo!)


 

Now that the fireworks and champagne toasts are done, we at Luminoso Language Services thought we would let you know of some Latino and Spanish traditions for New Years Eve.

A tradition that originated in Spain and is celebrated in many South and Central American countries is burning out the old year to get rid of negative karma from the past year. In some countries, the tradition is to write down the negatives on a piece of paper and burn it; in others people make or buy effigies to burn at midnight.

Another Spanish tradition widely followed in the Americas is eating 12 grapes at midnight – one grape for good luck for each month of the year. You can also make wishes on each grape. This tradition started in Spain in 1895 when grape farmers wanted to sell an over-abundance of grapes.

If you want to travel, people in Venezuela and Colombia believe that walking around the block with a suitcase will increase their chances of travel in the new year. To travel a person needs money, right? In Ecuador celebrants hide money around the house to bring prosperity, in other areas, people put money in their shoes.

What better way to make a clean sweep of the past year than cleaning your house? Families clean their houses so they are spotless by New Year’s Eve.

An ancient Roman tradition was to put lentils in their purses with the hope that they would turn to gold. Lentils are a symbol of of prosperity, so this tradition has translated into eating a bowl of lentils at midnight, or planting or putting lentils in your pocket to keep your finances straight in the coming year.

Windows are symbolic of fresh air, so two traditions that exploit that are: throwing last year’s calendar or a cup of water out the window. If it’s the water, the cup should be carried around the house to collect the bad vibes before it’s tossed.

And finally, your underwear matters! Wearing the following colored underwear on New Years Eve will attract:

  • Red: Attracts love, romance, and passion.
  • Yellow: Attracts money, prosperity, abundance, and financial stability into your life.
  • White: Represents peace, harmony, and calmness.
  • Black: Associated with luxury, power, and sexuality.
  • Green: The color of health, good luck, and protection. Wear them for all-around good fortune!
  • Blue: Believed to bring balance and stability. Good for making that elusive personal project come to life or getting that job you always wanted.

Imagine if you layered them and wore them all what a great year you would have!

Contact us to start you New Year with personal, online Spanish lessons

Feliz Año Nuevo from Luminoso Educational Services!

How Difficult is it to Learn a New Language?


The short answer is: it depends on the language you choose and how close it is to your native language. Other factors are:

  • How complex is your new language?
  • How many hours a week can you devote to learning the language?
  • Your Motivation
  • Your language learning resources

Here’s a list of common languages that are easiest and hardest to learn for English speakers with the population of native speakers .

Easy – 23-24 weeks
575-600 class hours:
Spanish 329 million
Portuguese 178 million
French 67.8 million
Italian 61.7 million
Romanian 23.4 million
Dutch 21.7 million
Swedish 8.3 million
Afrikaans 4.9 million
Norwegian 4.6 million

Medium 44 weeks
1,110 class hours
Hindi 182 million
Russian 144 million
Vietnamese 68.6 million
Turkish 50.8 million
Polish 40 million
Thai 20.4 million
Serbian 16.4 million
Greek 13.1 million
Hebrew 5.3 million
Finnish 5 million
Hard – 88 weeks
2,200 class hours
Arabic 221 million
Chinese 1.2 billion
Japanese 122 million
Korean 66.3 million






At Luminoso Language Services we make learning Spanish and beginners Italian fun and easy. To get started, fill out our form. We look forward to hearing from you!

All data from U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute

The Day of the Dead- It’s Not Halloween!


Day of the Dead—or Día de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico, Latin America and the United States to honor those those loved ones that have passed. Though Halloween and Day of the Dead are celebrated close together (Day of the Dead is on November 1 and 2), the two holidays aren’t connected. Halloween has Celtic roots and Day of the Dead traces its origins to the Aztecs, Mayans and Toltecs in Central America and Mexico. After the Spanish arrived the ritual period was finalized on the days of two Spanish holidays – All Saints Day and All Souls Day – November 1st and 2nd.

In spite of its morbid name, the Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, not death. The indigenous people that originated the celebration believed that death was was the beginning of new life when the spirits of the dead temporarily join the living. So the holiday is an opportunity to remember those who have departed with music and dancing.

Day of the Dead has it’s own symbols, just like Halloween, but instead of ghosts, pumpkins, skeletons, witches and black cats, the symbols are Monarch Butterflies (believed to hold the spirits of loved ones), Calaveritas de azucar (Sugar skulls), paper banners and a marigold native to Mexico who’s strong scent and bright colors create a path that leads the spirits from the afterlife to the family home. There, and at gravesites, the families sometimes create alters (ofrendas) as locations to celebrate.

The ofrendas are decorated with offerings to the spirits that represent the four elements: Fire – candles, water – to quench the thirst of the spirits, earth – traditional foods, and wind – the paper banners (paper picado) that have cut-outs to allow the souls to pass through.

Halloween has lost its spiritual beginnings, it’s now a night for children, candy and parties, but the spiritual roots of Día de los Muertos are still strong as people join in celebration of the memories and spirits of those they have lost.

Are you ready to start learning Spanish? Click here to schedule your personal, individual or group lessons.