Shortly after Kathy Jones relocated to California, the retired professor decided she needed to learn to speak Spanish.
“When I moved to San Diego, I would see all these young kids, mostly Latino kids, who could speak perfect Spanish and perfect English. And switch, back and forth, with fluidity. And I saw that and I don’t know why, but I said to myself, I want to be able to do that,” she says.
Jones looked forward to her weekly Spanish class and loved the extracurricular activities organized by her teachers at the Culture and Language Center in San Diego.
“Before the pandemic, we had meet-ups for coffee, parties, craft workshops and excursions all over Latin America — all totally in Spanish. We haven’t been able to do any of that since March.”
Jones is still keeping up with her classes, but they’re all online now. Her classmate is a friend who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, and their teacher is based in Tijuana. Her online sessions are providing some much-needed social interaction while Jones and her husband hunker down in their home.
Since Jones has been such a dedicated pupil, she’s almost reached fluency. And that could be good for her brain.
Some of the most compelling research on bilingualism and aging comes from Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto.
“The more you use another language, the