Professor Antonella Sorace, founder of the Bilingualism Matters Centre at Edinburgh University, said there was now good evidence to show that bilingualism could protect the brain in later life.
Studies have shown that certain types of dementia appear up to five years later for people who speak a second language compared with monolinguists.
It is thought bilingual people have a cognitive reserve that delays the onset.
Prof Sorace said she’d like children to learn languages from age five until they finish university.
“Languages should be a requirement for any kind of degree,” she told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington.
Read more: Student Times