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21 Dec 2018

Gael Linn is delighted to host the internationally renowned Dr. Thomas H Bak to deliver a public talk on the significant health benefits of learning an additional language in Armagh City. This is a wonderful opportunity to engage with Dr. Bak whose ground breaking research represents good news regarding the health benefits of learning another language irrespective of age.

Date: Tuesday 8 January 2019
Time: 8.00 p.m.
Venue: Charlemont Arms Hotel Armagh Admission Free – please RSVP to reserve place.

Thomas H Bak is a reader in Human Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. In addition to his work on bilingualism, he is a member of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing & Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE) and the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS).

The benefits of bilingualism are not confined to those who learned a second language early on in their childhood. Using the extensive data from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1937 study in Edinburgh Dr. Bak was able to demonstrate that people who learned a second language after the age of 11 years performed better on many cognitive tests at the age of 73 than could be predicted from their childhood intelligence. Meanwhile, many more strands of evidence point in the same direction. An improved performance on attentional tests in students learning additional languages has been found and this from the age of 18 up to 78 years. Other groups conducted neuroimaging studies confirming that bilingualism can influence grey matter thickness and connectivity between different brain areas.

Dr. Bak and his colleagues have examined the cognitive outcome of 608 patients who suffered an acute stroke. The results of this research have far-reaching consequences over and above their theoretical implications: stroke is the second most common cause of cognitive decline after dementia and anything that can be done to improve its outcome will be of great practical relevance. This is where learning another language or languages can make a significant difference to recovery and longevity.

Gael Linn was founded in 1953 and has been known since then as an entrepreneurial organisation. Gael Linn has had a presence in Armagh city for over 60 years. The main aim of the organisation is to foster and promote the Irish language and its heritage throughout Ireland as a living language and as an expression of identity.

Gael Linn has been designated by Foras na Gaeilge as one of six lead organisations in the voluntary sector. In that context, our areas of responsibility are: the teaching of Irish as a school subject and in adult education, and the creation of opportunities for school pupils to use Irish. Further information