Becoming a bilingual or multilingual person brings many benefits not just to the academic credentials of the individual, but also to the brain.
Neuroscience research shows that a bilingual brain is very strong and healthy. It resembles a muscle that exercises consistently and it becomes vigorous and healthy. A brain that is trained to learn more than one language develops greater attention, mental flexibility and retention. This is due to the effect on grey matter in the brain, which controls language acquisition and processing, memory and attention spans. Bilingual individuals grow denser grey matter compared to their monolingual counterparts. A multilingual brain is faster, quicker and further resilient to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The onset of Alzheimer’s disease can be delayed by 4-5 years in bilingual adults, including less brain damage. Also, bilingual adults are twice as likely to keep full brain function after a stroke.
The brain that is learning a second language develops strong thinking skills, cultivates greater cultural awareness, uses logic when making decisions, and increases reading comprehension. A bilingual individual shows great concentration on assignments while focusing on relevant information. Also, bilinguals are very capable at switching between two structures, which improves multitasking.
Learning a second language requires memorizing rules and vocabulary. This mental exercise helps remembering lists and sequences. Bilingual speakers tend to make more reasonable decisions, because they evaluate deeply all options after considering them in their second language.
Some of the more obvious advantages of bilingual students and professionals are:
- Enhanced performance in college and in their professional careers
- Speaking a second language is critical to professional success
- Do better on standardized test in math, reading and vocabulary
- Outperform in forming scientific hypothesis
- Are more aware of language; therefore are more effective communicators, editors and writers
- A bilingual person tends to be more tolerant and shows more empathy
Sara Lydon holds an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Escuela Bancaria y Comercial and a Master’s Degree in Education from Universidad de las Américas, Puebla. Sara has extensive experience in both the finance and education fields.