Do you really need to know another language?

“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

According to  researches, if you’re bilingual you’re smarter than monolinguals. Basically, your brain is more active and your learning skills are better as you know other languages. Here is the results from some studies on the advantages of being bilingual.

Bilinguals think faster and sharper

Learning a second language is must for some people; for some others just something they like to do.

A research at the University of Chicago showed that being bilingual has some obvious advantages. Learning more than one language enables new conversations and new experiences. But in recent years, some less obvious advantages of bilingualism emerged too. For instance, bilingual children may enjoy certain cognitive benefits, such as improved executive function; which is critical for problem solving and other mentally demanding activities.

Ellen Bialystok from York University, Toronto and her colleagues set out to show that bilinguals have certain advantages in mental processing. They found that bilinguals are better at switching their attention when multi-tasking and are also better at paying attention in general. It did not matter whether the tasks were connected to language or not.

This type of mental processing is known as executive control. This control plays a vital part in childhood academic achievement which in turn benefits overall health and well-being. The researchers also noticed that bilinguals are better at sifting out irrelevant information since they frequently have to deal with interference from other languages.

She also conducted another study which showed that this great advantage extended well into old age and was a factor in helping to stave off dementia. The faster reaction and better memory of the elderly participants was a marked feature of the bilinguals in the study.

Bilinguals have more gray matter
As we know, the more gray matter the better for our brains, as it helps us process information we receive, especially for intellectual activities.

The researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center compared gray matter in bilinguals of American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English with monolingual users of English. Both ASL-English and Spanish-English bilinguals share qualities associated with bilingualism, such as vocabulary size. But unlike bilinguals of two spoken languages, ASL-English bilinguals can sign and speak simultaneously, allowing the researchers to test whether the need to inhibit the other language might explain the bilingual advantage.

“Unlike the findings for the Spanish-English bilinguals, we found no evidence for greater gray matter in the ASL-English bilinguals,” Olulade says. “Thus we conclude that the management of two spoken languages in the same modality, rather than simply a larger vocabulary, leads to the differences we observed in the Spanish-English bilinguals.”

The management of two spoken languages was regarded by researchers as being a key factor in the growth of gray matter. It is generally accepted that our brains adapt as a result of new experiences.

One way or another, if you learned one or more languages than your mother tongue, if you’re multilingual, your view of life is totally different from monolinguals and you have advantages in life.

Resources:

https://mdl.uchicago.edu/news/superior-social-skills-bilinguals

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322418/

https://gumc.georgetown.edu/news/Bilinguals-of-Two-Spoken-Languages-Have-More-Gray-Matter-Than-Monolinguals