10 Benefits of being Bilingual

Mental Flexibility

In a study published in ScienceDaily: Bilingual Benefits Beyond Communication in November 2010, the research team led by Ellen Bialystok of York University found that bilingual children outperformed monolingual children in speed of assimilation, between two or more mental tasks. Switching between two languages 鈥嬧媎evelops the parts of the brain that control switching between different activities or streams of thought. This enhanced mind control ability can make bilingual minds more flexible, better at multitasking, and seeing beyond the obvious.

Increased Attention

The same study found that bilingual people are better able to focus on tasks and block out distractions. This increased focus and control stems from the ability to keep the two separate languages 鈥嬧媔n mind without mixing up words and grammar.

Resistance to Alzheimer’s Disease

Professor Judith Kroll conducted research in bilingual seniors that suggests that bilingual speakers are more resistant to Alzheimer’s disease than monolinguals. This resistance could be due to the constant mental exercise necessary to exchange between two languages 鈥嬧媋t the same time. This constant “brain gymnastics” keeps the brain active and flexible in the future.

Problem Solving

People who speak more than one language have better problem solving skills. The Bialystok team theorized that “bilinguals have superior working memory for information storage and processing,” giving them a greater ability to think creatively and flexibly about how to carry out tasks. and overcome obstacles. And although the greatest advantages were observed in people who used both languages 鈥嬧媜n a daily basis, the Canadian researcher points out that even practicing that second language learned at school in the summer can be beneficial against dementia.

Communication

Of course, the most obvious advantage of being bilingual is the ability to communicate in two languages. Developmental experts used to think that learning two languages 鈥嬧媐rom birth would lead to language confusion and compromised abilities in both languages, not only have they been shown to be wrong, quite the opposite is true. Speaking two languages 鈥嬧媋llows bilinguals to have more ideas, and a better ability to communicate in both languages.

Listening

Bilinguals have been shown to have better listening skills than monolinguals. They are more focused and better able to discern the meaning of the interlocutor.

Interpersonal Connections

Being bilingual opens the doors of communication to new people at work, at home, and in the community. It allows the bilingual person to make friends in two or more different communities, and make connections with new and interesting people, both at home and abroad.

Cultural Vision

Speaking a second language is not limited to allowing communication, but also allows the speaker to learn more about other cultures and traditions. Language and culture are deeply intertwined, and speaking the language of another community is the first step to fully understanding their lifestyle, traditions, and beliefs.

Employment Opportunities

On a practical level, being bilingual opens doors to employment and many academic opportunities that would otherwise be impossible. Academically, many fields of study require language skills as a prerequisite to study, bilinguals have an advantage. Employers value bilingual employees for their ability to communicate with customers and coworkers.

Travel

Being bilingual opens doors in your current location, but it also opens many new doors in different parts of the world. Speaking a second language can make traveling easier and more rewarding. If you need a visa to travel, being bilingual can make it easier to get approved.

If you have children that are growing up in a bilingual enviroment and would like to speak to a specialist, you can find a list of bilingual and culturally sensitive psycholigists in the ESHA Spain business directory

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