The Advantages of Multilingualism

The Advantages of Multilingualism

Although bilingualism is now acknowledged to offer numerous advantages, it was formerly believed to be detrimental to brain development. Study after study demonstrates that learning a second language strengthens specific brain regions in addition to the social and professional advantages of multilingualism.

First off, a study conducted at the University of British Columbia demonstrates that, in contrast to previous beliefs, babies exposed to two languages in utero do not confuse the languages, and that, on the contrary, the lifetime effort required to keep the languages distinct improves “perceptual vigilance.”

However, bilingualism has advantages that extend beyond the advantages of bilingual upbringing. Those who acquire a second language throughout their lives will benefit in many ways. One finding made by Swedish researchers utilizing MRI equipment is that language learning causes the brain to develop, especially in the hippocampus, which is responsible for creating and storing memories.

Language learners not only see improvements in their brains, but also in a multitude of other domains. It has been shown that they can multitask well and give each activity their full attention. They also improve their memory aptitude and hone their arithmetic, listening, concentration, problem-solving, reading, and vocabulary in their own tongue. Mathematically speaking, bilinguals complete new arithmetic problems half a second quicker than monolinguals, according to a University of Washington research.

Long-term advantages

Learning a language also has significant advantages for maintaining mental clarity as one ages. Researchers Brian Gold of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine compared the performance of seniors who were monolingual and bilingual on an attention-switching exercise. This ability usually diminishes with age. The multilingual seniors not only outperformed their classmates, but their brains also functioned more effectively and with less effort.

According to neuroscientists, cognitive function may be preserved against Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline as one ages. While learning a new language delays symptoms for 4-5 years, current Alzheimer’s treatment only delays symptoms for 6–12 months. Once again, this is not only for those who pick up a second language at birth; learning a second language even beyond middle age is beneficial. Learning a language keeps your mind “fit” and engaged.

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