Bilingual Benefits

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Bilingual Benefits

Samantha Reed, Writer

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¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? Sprichst du Deutsch? If you answered yes in Spanish, German, or French and your reading this article, chances are that you understand two or more languages, which makes you bilingual. There are many benefits to being bilingual; people who are actively bilingual and multilingual have brains that look and work differently than monolingual speakers. But what does it mean to be bilingual?

We measure fluency of a language in two parts: the active, speaking and writing, and the passive, listening and reading. From here, we classify bilingualism into three parts. Compound bilinguists learned the two languages simultaneously as they grew up. This type of fluency in both languages regularly occurs in young immigrants, Europeans, and even in some inhabitants of India. For those who chose Spanish or French in high school, they became coordinate bilinguals, meaning they learned their language of choice through books and teachers. For most immigrant parents, they became subordinate bilinguals or bilinguals who learned by filtering the new language through their old language.

Recent advances in brain searching technology have let us view into the minds of these people. Our brains are split into two hemispheres: the analytical left hemisphere and the creative right hemisphere. While this isn’t a direct split, most of our language learning abilities are processed through one side, usually the left. However, lateralization, or the process of specializing the two hemispheres, is slow to develop. This has caused many scientists to believe in the Critical Period Hypothesis or the hypothesis that children learn languages faster when their brains haven’t fully developed into the left and right hemispheres.

The benefits of being bilingual unmistakably outweigh the consequences. Looking at the bilingual brain, many scientists noted that they have more grey matter compared to monolingual brains. The heightened activity in the brain can also lead to the delay of certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia for up to seven years. So while bilingualism may not necessarily make you smarter, it does make your brain healthier, more complex, and actively engaged, so why not give it a shot?

About the Writer
Samantha Reed, Writer

You know my name, but what you might not know is that I was born in Ohio as my mom's only daughter and my dad's only (biological) kid. I have three little...

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Bilingual Benefits