The benefits of bilingualism


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.

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6 Education Theorists All Teachers Should Know

6 Education Theorists All Teachers Should Know Infographic
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Lev Vygotsky

According to Vygotsky (1978) the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) relates to the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. For example, a child can not solve the jigsaw puzzle by himself but if he receives support from a teacher or a parent, he will be able to solve it. This will help him to develop competence at this skill that will be applied to future jigsaws.

Scaffolding is not a term that Vygotsky actually used but it is a concept that developed based on his work. It means that a teacher or a more advanced peer helps a student to complete a task that he can’t do on his own. The scaffolding has to be gradually reduced and eventually be removed since the student can complete the task on their own.

Read also: Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Learning Theory

Jean Piaget

According to Piaget (1936), children are born with a very basic mental structure (genetically inherited and evolved) on which all subsequent learning and knowledge is based. Piaget worked with the idea that the things people know are organized into schemas. (think of schemas as “units” of knowledge, each relating to one aspect of the world).  When a child learns something new, they either assimilate it into an existing schema, change their schema, or develop a new schema. When we activate background knowledge before introducing a new knowledge we are helping students draw upon their existing schema.

Read also: Piaget’s Τheory of Cognitive Development

B.F. Skinner

According to Skinner (1993), behaviour is influenced by what happens before (antecedents) and immediately after it (consequences). So, behaviorism it’s the idea that praise and rewards positively reinforce a behavior and encourage kids to continue with it. Skinner believed that punishments are counterproductive and that humans act in a way to avoid punishment and gain reward.  If you praise your students for doing something right, display a good work etc, you are using behaviourism to guide students towards the behaviors and actions of successful adults.

Read also: Skinner’s Programmed Instruction Educational Model

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Children Learn What They Live, By Dorothy Law Nolte (1972)

If we want to be considered as responsible for our mission to educate children effectively, we have to take into serious consideration the verses of Dorothy’s Law Nolte poem of 1972 ‘Children Learn What They Live’:

Children Learn What They Live, By Dorothy Law Nolte (1972)


If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.