Speaking more than one language wouldn’t, of course, hurt when you’re looking for a job or traveling, but the advantages of being bilingual extend far beyond your CV or your passport. I’m sure you’ve heard that being bilingual can prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s but what can it do for your brain right now?
Bilinguals are more loaded
Children who grow up learning to speak two languages can have an easier time switching between tasks than those who speak one language only. Their brain can easily switch between different languages, which works really well when completing other tasks.
The research was financed by the US National Healthcare Institute, bilingual and monolingual children were tested: a child had to press a button while watching a series of images on a computer. When images were limited to a single key and a single category, children’s reaction of spinning frequency was identical. But when the task involved pressing different keys for different categories of images (for example, animals and flowers), bilingual children were faster in completing this task.
Bilinguals concentrate better
People who understand two languages can subconsciously block another language while speaking or listening. Doing that daily would lead to better levels of attention and less distractions.
US Northwestern University’s research – the use of electrodes for measuring soundwaves generated in the brain in order to listen simple sounds over and over. Monolingual and bilingual children perceived the sound the same way, and a little later, background noises were added; as a result, bilinguals could block it and concentrate on a simple sound.
Bilinguals make more rational decisions. When you’re thinking of something in two different languages, your workload doubles, and this helps you make a more rational decision.
Bilinguals are more perceptive and observant
When you’re switching from one language to another, your brain follows the changes you’re executing.
Widened perception of bilinguals is demonstrated by an example of small children. During the early stages, all children can tell languages apart, even by reading lips without hearing the language itself. But this skill disappears with time in monolingual children and remains strong in bilingual ones. The influence of several languages gives children an ability to even tell apart the languages they don’t know. Researchers studied this by placing children in front of a TV. Some time later, all the children became bored of a woman who was speaking a mixture of English and French. However, when the woman began speaking a third language, only bilingual children began to follow her speech closely.
Bilinguals have a better developed memory
If you’ve ever learned a second language, you know how long it takes to learn and remember new worlds, expression, grammar rules, models, etc. It is, therefore, not surprising that bilinguals’ memory works better.
Good memory can serve you well in everyday situations as well, even when remembering a phone number or a sequence of account numbers and passwords.