The Bilingual Brain Advantage
Bilingualism has various benefits including those to do with the brain. Various studies show the relationship of language, and the positive affects it has on cognitive development. Below you can find 5 cognitive benefits of bilingualism.
What is Bilingualism?
There is no one set statement to define bilingualism as each definition differs on the basis on learning period and language proficiency. See our post on the definition of bilingualism and what it means to be bilingual for more information.
Bilinguals are walking diversity advocate – promoting & practicing cultural, language and race diversification and inclusion; hence being loved and admire my everyone.
With all the social & cultural perks, bilinguals are amazingly talented in self management due to their enhanced cognitive skills set.
Knowledge and understanding with two languages have some impressive effects on their cognitive functionality of brain, thus making a bilingual kid better acquainted with environmental changes, multiple tasking, attention to details, impulse controlling and many other aspect that require focus and patience.
Moving on with this article we go into detail about the multiple cognitive benefits of being a bilingual.
Major breakthroughs in technology have enable researchers & scientist to analyze the impacts of bilingualism over brain functionality and enhanced cognitive ability.
Cognitive Benefits of Bilingualism
Here are 5 brain benefits of bilingualism:
Bilinguals can think in two languages simultaneously
Bilingual’s brains are wired to think in two languages hence when they use one language for the conversation the other language activates automatically.
The constant switching between two languages let their minds to generate numerous outcomes of one word in different languages as compared to monolinguals.
One study showed that when a Russian – English bilingual was asked to “pick up a marker” among other items so he looks for a ‘stamp’ because the work marker sounded pretty much similar to the word “marka” in Russian which means stamp.
Whether you ask a bilingual to think in either languages or not, the process of language co-activation is very much unconscious & quick – it can even activate for the words that different in sound & pronunciation.
Bilinguals have good control over their speech and hearing
A continuous competition between the two languages in bilingual mind enhanced the control mechanism of brain.
Due to which, a bilingual person uses a great deal of attention in speaking & listening and inhibits the unnecessary words.
With respect to communication, it is an important & effective trait of an individual and its continued practice nourished the control mechanism.
Bilinguals have the ability to juggle between different tasks
According to research by Anat Prior and Brian Macwhinney, due to the constant juggle between the languages bilinguals show a swift response in switching task as compared to monolinguals.
Bilinguals could easily shift their mental state from one task to another without any confusion or complication.
Bilinguals can manage conflicts like a pro
As discussed above, along with enhanced control mechanism bilinguals also have enhanced inhibitory controls that help them to eliminate irrelevant information and focuses on the required one.
This enhanced feature of brain helps in managing the conflict inducing task that requires executive attention.
This could be defined with the experiment of Stroop Task, where people are asked to name the color the words are written in, despite reading the word.
For example the word “Yellow” is written in color blue, a bilingual mind is able to get over the conflict with the help inhibiting the unnecessary information that is word Yellow itself and process the relevant that is color blue.
Moreover, in this study it’s proven through Attentional Network Task (ANT) that bilinguals are relatively fast and efficient in processing information, attentive to details, switching between tasks and conflict management as compared to monolinguals.
Hence bilinguals use lesser energy and focus in juggling between tasks, making them highly susceptible to change and focused towards even minute details.
Bilinguals are better at performing the task at hand
Another cognitive benefit of bilingualism is multitasking. As compared to monolinguals, bilinguals perform better in the task at hand due to their efficient working memory – a brain function that store and process temporary stimulus in order to complete the given task at any given moment.
There are many studies that the reason behind bilingual’s better working memory lies in the process of learning & understanding two different languages.
Due to the constant comparison and new learning, bilinguals developed immense remembering approach that results in highly developed executive skills; helping them stay focused and determine on the given task.
Bilingualism and the Brain
In a nutshell, bilinguals go through the extensive process of unlearning, learning and re-learning to fulfill their needs of transitioning into second language.
The process requires tremendous attention, focus, remembering and analyses which enhance the cognitive activity of brain from basic to executive.
Hence bilinguals have an extensive information processing brain that add efficient feature in their daily living too.
Bilinguals acquaintance with two different languages gives them an opportunity to understand & create words corresponding to different languages.
For example Japanese language has 100s of variant for the word “I” with respect to gender and age.
Such cognitive abilities lead to viewing a new and different world altogether – making bilinguals smarter & creative.
Language is a major component of our overall existence; it defines our identity, our culture, our perspectives and purpose, it let us communicate & express all of that. But how much these words and sentences impact our brains is phenomenal.
See more benefits of being bilingual HERE.
An excellent and a very informative article. The IDA (International Dyslexia Association) has done studies showing that people can be dyslexic in one language an not in another. Languages are each “compartmented” in different areas of the brain and thus confusion of languages is not a real issue. However, if the right word is not available in one language, you switch to your other “tool kit”. I grew up overseas beginning at age 8 and have a background in languages and linguistics (the study of language, phonetics, phonology & grammar). At my peak in the Navy, I could listen to and transcribe Russian dictation speed newscasts in long hand and give a reasonably accurate verbal translation into either German or French without thinking in English. I can’t do that any longer, my other languages are now dormant.
Due to limited foreign language openings, I switched over to primarily teach special education. In a small district about 18 years ago, i was the sole foreign language teacher and taught Russian,German, French and by default Spanish grammar to students who’d taken Spanish for one or two years, but could hardly put a sentence together. Fortunately French and Spanish grammar are “mechanically” very similar, just different words and endings for the most part.
Italian born Mario Pei, the famous polyglot, believed as a young child that each person spoke a different language, because his parents and relatives each spoke to him in a different language. He was seven when the family immigrated to the United States and by the end of high school he knew English, Italian, Latin, Greek, and French. Eventually he became fluent in five languages, capable of speaking 30 others and acquainted with the structure of at least 100 other languages. There are about 3,000 spoken languages on Earth.
In addition to benefits listed in the article, bilingualism eventually provides job opportunities and enhanced travel experiences. On a trip to Spain, I used my limited Spanish to translate for a French tourist. Bilingualism is the first step to multilingualism.