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Why being bilingual can improve language learning?

Is being bilingual in diverse languages, besides the native one, an excellent way to improve your brain skills? The way you integrate language is a fantastic process. Children, younger than 3 years old, acquire words in many different languages.

“The brain has a perfectly good system whose job it is to do just that – it’s the executive control system. It focuses attention on what’s important and ignores distraction. Therefore, for a bilingual, the executive control system is used in every sentence you utter. That’s what makes it strong.” Ellen Bialystok explained.


Many schools in the United States offer a foreign language program. However, many schools do not implement these programs until high school. But studies show the earlier a child learns another language, the better for a child’s brain. Until recently, scientific evidence suggests learning another language is better for your mind.

Between the 1880s and 1960s, educators believed learning a second language leads to literacy disruption, language delay, and confusion. The opposite is true. Many of the benefits include language improvement, logical thinking, and enhancement of cognitive abilities.

Recent Studies

A recent study showed how infants wrote down signs of improved cognitive ability. In a group of seven-month-old babies, parents showed pictures followed by a sound. Then, parents presented a puppet in one particular part of the study.

Following the studies, researchers presented several variations of the patterns and sounds. In that way, a puppet moves from one place to another. Amazingly, bilingual children were able to expect the change of position of the puppet while monolingual babies were not.

Other studies showed children between the ages of five and six years old that have learned a foreign language improved mental skills. Bilinguals add more details to drawings, suggesting creativity and enhanced language skills. A current study using functional near-infrared spectroscopy showed a difference in brain structure between monolinguals and bilinguals.

Remarkably, the brain of bilinguals showed more activity in the inferior frontal cortex while reading. The human brain is a large, powerful organ. Hence, language acquisition is only one of its functions.


Additional Bilingual Benefits

Besides the ability to know two or more languages, acquiring a foreign language has more benefits. Learning another language conveys a competitive edge in college applications and resumes. A bilingual brain eliminates distractions and focuses on the task at hand. This mental agility gives the brain an extra boost in learning.

And it can later prevent the early signs of dementia or mind aging. The previous idea that learning a second language can delay language acquisition is an unproven one. Scientific evidence suggests bilinguals have more brain activity.

Even as young as three years old, learning another language does not deter linguistics. Being bilingual is a great way to increase language learning for life.

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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