The Benefits of Bilingualism

by multilingualmania on February 24, 2010

in Bilingualism

Why Two Languages Are Better Than One

Are you curious about the advantages of learning another language?  Do you wonder if it is worth it to continue developing your fluency in a second or third tongue?   Have you ever contemplated how bilingualism might benefit your children?  The gift of language is one that truly keeps on giving.  The process of learning and mastering more than one language yields lifelong rewards for both children and adults.  Being bilingual improves an individual’s mental agility, cultural sensitivity, and listening skills while also giving an individual a proven competitive advantage in both the classroom and the workplace.  Keep reading if you are interested in learning more about the many ways that bilingualism can benefit you and your family.

Cognitive Benefits

Studies of both children and adults have repeatedly confirmed that the ability to speak two or more languages increases a person’s mental flexibility and capacity for creative thinking.  Other cognitive benefits of billingualism include the development of a strong working memory and a better ability to multi-task than monolingual individuals.  In addition, research has shown that speaking two or more languages over the course of a lifetime can delay the loss of mental ability later on in life and slow the onset of dimensia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cultural Benefits

Being bilingual exposes an individual to diverse customs, ideas, and perspectives from different cultures.  Ease in more than one language opens up travel opportunities and the capacity to study or work in different countries.  Accordingly, those with the ability to speak a second or third language are able to develop relationships with people that language barriers would have otherwise prevented.  As a result, bilingual children and adults are often more culturally sensitive than single language speakers.  Bilingualism can also deepen family bonds by allowing younger generations to communicate with older generations in their family’s native tongue.

Communication Benefits

When a person learns a second or third language they also heighten their overall language sensitivity which allows them to deepen their understanding of their native language.  Bilingual children have an easier time grasping the symbolic nature of language than their multilingual counterparts.  This leads to a more thorough comprehension of how language works and the most effective ways to use it.  Additionally, because bilingualism requires an individual to choose a language in which to communicate or quickly switch between two or more tongues, multilingual individuals are often more attentive listeners.

Classroom Benefits

Research has indicated that bilingual children are better at focusing their attention and coping with distractions than monolingual children.  Resultingly, bilingual children generally perform better in the classroom because of their increased ability to concentrate and multi-task.  Bilingual children also score higher on standardized tests like the SAT.  In addition, language skills make a student more competitive when applying for college.  And the benefits of bilingualism are not confined to the classroom.  Bilingual abilities give individuals a jump in the job market.  In today’s global economy, employers all over the world are looking for job applicants with the ability to speak more than one language.  Bilingual individuals have the real competitive edge!

About the Author: R.K. Albers is a freelance writer and translator living in Mexico, where she serves as a volunteer English teacher, computer instructor, and web designer for several social and environmental justice non-profit organizations. In her spare time, she loves to sustain and improve her bilingualism by reading novels and watching movies in Spanish.

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