Language


| 3 Comments

My mother is Peruvian so growing up I always spoke "Spanglish" - the combination of English and Spanish.  Whenever people find out that I am fluent in both Spanish and English they are usually fascinated by this and tell me that I am so lucky to know two languages. I know for many people it is not easy learning a second language, but I was curious as to what is the truth about being bilingual. Does is actually make you a smarter person?

 Learning a foreign language is a challenging concept since it is something you are not familiar with. Many Physiological studies have concurred that the brains of bilingual people work differently than those of only one language. Being bilingual is good for your cognitive process. Speaking two languages challenges your brain constantly boosting your problem solving skills. Bilingual people are able to switch from one language to the other while speaking and writing. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this "juggling" skill makes them good multitasks, because they can easily switch between different structures".

 Your brain needs to be exercised constantly to function properly. While switching from English to Spanish on a daily basis I am always exercising my brain while transitioning languages. Most of us are capable of learning a new language and there are many pros to doing so such as:

-Building multitasking skills

-Memory improvemen

-Decision making skills improve

-Good listening skills

-Putting words into categories

 As we get older our cognitive process and brain function begins to decline. "A team led by Dr. Brian Gold from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine used MRI scans to compare brain activity of healthy 60 to 68-year-olds while they completed mentally challenging tasks. They found that both monolingual and bilingual seniors performed the task accurately. However, those who spoke two languages or more were faster at completing the third task despite expending less energy in the frontal cortex - an area known to be involved in task switching."  This concludes that being able to speak two languages does in fact make you a smarter person. Your brain is constantly active and functioning and being able to communicate in two different ways. 


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Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/10126883/Why-learn-a-foreign-language-Benefits-of-bilingualism.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2259469/Speaking-languages-childhood-keeps-brain-good-shape-age.html

http://www.asha.org/about/news/tipsheets/bilingual.htm


3 Comments

I think being bilingual is one of the greatest qualities a person can have. When I was younger, my nanny always spoke to me in spanish to help me become bilingual. I don't remember, but my mom told me that I was almost fluent in both english and spanish when I was little. Unfortunately, without practicing for years, I lost it. I am familiar with all of these statistics. I know how important and beneficial it is to be bilingual. At almost every job interview or application they always ask if you are bilingual or can speak another language at all. In our world today, English is not the most spoken language, it's mandarin. The New York times often does articles about culture and I found a great one dealing with Bilingualism. I found the most interesting part to be about bilingual elderly people. It has been proven that these people have onsets of alzheimers much later than people who are not bilingual and i found that to be very interesting. A lot of the article overlaps with your findings, but there are some other portions that I think you would enjoy reading. The link is
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.html?_r=0

I agree with katie. Being bilingual could be one of the best qualities a person could have. I always found it so fascinating when someone would tell me that they could speak more than one language. My senior year of high school we hosted a belgian exchange student. She could speak french and fluent english with a knowledge in german and dutch. I found this amazing! Stemming off her I wanted to be able to speak another language fluently so I decided to look into italian. I still can't wrap my head around how people know how to speak multiple languages. I may actually be a little jealous of these people! People in other countries can speak english so well but I think that Americans are so ignorant when it comes to learning another language and I definitely think that people should know how to speak another language!

The benefits you pointed out are the reason schools in the US should be teaching children a foreign language sooner. Beginning language early sets the stage for students to develop into advanced levels of proficiency.As we grow, it becomes harder to learn a second language. Additionally in a "2007 study in Harwich, Massachusetts, showed that students who studied a foreign language in an articulated sequence outperformed their non-foreign language learning peers on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test after two-three years and significantly outperformed them after seven-eight years on all MCAS subtests." - See more at: http://www.actfl.org/advocacy/discover-languages/for-parents/cognitive#sthash.QexUsYdO.dpuf

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