Speaking two languages (or more) has practical benefits for the person. Here are some facts about bilingualism:
1. Bilingualism actually grows grey matter! Brain scans reveal a greater density of grey matter in areas of the brain associated with language processing in people who learned a second language under the age of five (Mechelli A., et al., 2004).
2. Bilinguals develop strong thinking and cognitive skills.
3. They cultivate greater cultural awareness since they are more exposed to more than one culture.
4. They understand better math concepts due to abstract thinking.
5. Focus and make decisions easier. They are more certain of their choices after thinking them over in their second language.
6. They are good multitaskers since they are able to switch between two tasks.
7. Their memory is strong. Learning a language involves memorizing rules and vocabulary which strengthens the mental muscle.
8. They have increased reading comprehension.
9. A multilingual brain is quicker and more resistant to Alzheimer’s.
10. Bilingual children do better in education. They have been shown to be better than their monolingual peers at focusing on a task while tuning out distractions. This seemingly enhanced ability to concentrate has also been found in bilingual adults, especially those who became fluent in two languages at an early age. It is thought that being able to filter things out when switching language enhances the brain’s ability to focus and ignore irrelevant information.
Here is an informative video about bilingualism:
How to Support your Bilingual Child
There are many ways to support your child’s bilingualism:
- Try not to mix both languages in the same sentence, or use the grammar rules of the first language for the second.
- Don’t worry if your child mixes his two languages. This is a normal part of becoming bilingual. Provide your child with many opportunities to hear, speak, play and interact in your home language.
- If you think your child has a language delay, consult a speech language pathologist for advice regarding the best ways to help your child learn more than one language.
Mechelli, A., Crinion, J. T., Noppeney, U., O’Doherty, J., Ashburner, J., Frackowiak, R. S., & Price, C. J. (2004). Neurolinguistics: structural plasticity in the bilingual brain. Nature, 431(7010), 757-757.