BENEFITS OF BILINGUALISM
There are billions of bilingual people worldwide (3.3 to be exact – accounting for 43% of the population). (Bilingualism Statistics in 2022: US, UK & Global (preply.com) Have you ever stopped to think about the benefits of bilingualism?
Why is it good to be able to speak more than one language or admired that person next to you who is able to ping-pong between languages?
At Le Repertoire de Gaspard, we really love languages. Becoming bilingual is an opportunity to live, work and study worldwide. A chance to make friends in places you might otherwise never have been able to do. We are always keen to promote our English services so we would like to take a moment to reflect about what the benefits of bilingualism are for the children we work with.
We are privileged in the fact that many of our childcare educators are bilingual themselves. They can understand the intricacies of language learning that each child faces as they start their English language voyage.
WHAT DOES BILINGUALISM MEAN?
Bilingualism or being bilingual means having the ability to speak two languages. The word stems from the Latin ‘bi’ meaning ‘having two’’ and lingua – translating as tongue.
Here we encourage you to think about the top benefits of bilingualism….
CRITICAL THINKING AND FOCUS
It’s thought that the ability to select which language to use in different contexts makes bilingual kids better at considering the perspectives of others. They get the global picture so to speak and tend to think outside the box.
Photo courtesy of : The Challenges of Being Bilingual – Association for Psychological Science – APS
Bilingual students are found to have higher mental flexibility and possess the ability to multitask.
One American University study revealed that bilingual people are able to process information more quickly and efficiently than monolinguals. A Bilingual Brain Is a Smarter Brain | Time
Many people who speak more than one language also mention that they feel like another person when they switch from language to language. Generally, they are more confident to mix with people from other countries or at least have a willingness to try as they have some of the core communication tools already under their belt – namely the vocabulary and grammar to get their point across.
Bilingual children as young as seven months can better adjust to environmental changes, while bilingual seniors can experience less cognitive decline. The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual – PMC (nih.gov)
Think of Paris’beautiful wall of love in Montmartre featuring many languages !
THINKING FOR THE FUTURE
Making your brain have that linguistic workout is good for you – it helps you to process information more easily and efficiently. Having cognitive flexibility can help keep dementia at bay and even potentially delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The American Academy of Neurology found that Bilingualism delays age at onset of dementia, independent of education and immigration status | Neurology
Furthermore, as you enter the workforce, having multiple language skills can set you apart from others and be highly desired in areas such as travel and tourism, healthcare and national security— or generally job where you need to work across cultures.
Other fields like journalism, education and international development are always in search of bilingual employees as well. And knowing a second language may also give you an an edge if you want to apply for the Peace Corps or become a Foreign Service Officer.
A common myth is that if you don’t learn a language before a certain age, you’ll never be able to. However, although it’s much more difficult to learn a language as an adult compared with as a child, it is still possible to retrain your brain to learn second languages as an adult!
SEEING IS BELIEVING
As a bilingual mother of three children who have been brought up bilingually, I see the daily positive impact that bilingualism brings. From having a natural curiosity to learning about other cultures and nationalities to switching from one language to another depending on the person they are speaking to, it’s a natural gift that adults can give to children.