The cognitive benefits of learning a second languagePublished by: Joshua Huihui | Date: November : 27 : 2011 | Categories: Education News 1
Many people give up the idea of learning another language in adulthood because they are told they will never be fluent past a certain age. According to Noam Chomsky, (Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory, 1955, 75), a Language Acquisition Device- a naturally occurring system in the brain- has an expiration date that makes language acquisition more difficult as we age. This device continually develops until about age 13, where its efficacy begins to disappear. That is the reason why people who grow up truly bilingual do not have strong accents in either of the two languages they speak.
Even though a person may not end up sounding like a native speaker, they will still benefit from Bilingualism. Studies consistently show that bilinguals have an enhanced cognitive command, creativity, multitasking, and problem solving skills foundation. They are usually quicker in engaging the brain’s executive control centers simply because they speak and think in both languages. Bilingualism has even been shown to delay the onset of dementia and / or Alzheimer’s disease in studies conducted by Dr. Ellen Bialystock, a neuroscientist and research professor of psychology at York University in Toronto.
There are, in addition to all these cognitive benefits, cultural and character advantages. Because Bilinguals’ brains are so flexible, they are more likely to see commonality with people from other cultures. This results in an enhanced tolerance of unfamiliar creeds and customs. Finally, in a globalized economy, a foreign language may very well end up as a requirement for career success. Even though educational institutions in the U.S. have not prioritized foreign language instruction, the reality is we are competing against a growing world economy with lots of highly functioning Bilinguals and Trilinguals who are highly educated and eager to produce.
So, take the opportunity to challenge your brain and try something new. Much like physical fitness based muscle confusion keeps increasing muscle recruitment, introducing a second language forces the brain to use faculties it normally keeps dormant. Even if you don’t ever achieve fluent status, you will at least learn more about your own language and culture, a reward that is highly needed in our current technologically oriented age.
~Nina Raab Spanish Teacher/Mentor at Fusion Huntington Beach
For more detailed reading about Bilingualisms’ benefits, please visit the following:
knowingeducation.com (Benefits of Being Bilingual)