What are the advantages of being bilingual? For an international professional in the United States and his or her family members, being able to switch between English and their native language might be tough in the beginning. However after living and working here for a while, expatriates find that if they immerse themselves in the English language, they will learn to speak English naturally. They can create a bilingual household. A lot of researchers believe that being bilingual has real advantages for brain development. In today's post, I will review an article from The Daily Beast by Casey Schwartz called "Why It's Smart to Be Bilingual".
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What Are the Advantages of Being Bilingual?
1. Advanced Brain Fuctioning:
"...the regular, high-level use of more than one language may actually improve early brain development.... While no one has yet identified the exact mechanism by which bilingualism boosts brain development, the advantage likely stems from the bilingual's needs to continually select the right language for the given situation"
If you are an international professional and you have been transferred to a position in the United States, it may be a confusing and stressful situation at first, but according to recent research, this move presents an enormous oppurtunity for your children to reach a level where they can switch naturally between languages.
2. Learning How to Learn:
"Bilinguals also appear to be better at learning new languages than monolinguals"
In my experience, this is absolutely true. Once a child or an adult has gone from monolingual to bilingual, it will be much easier to jump to that third language. Why? Because the brain has already learned how to recognize new patterns and the learner is familiar with his or her learning style (visual, verbal, tactile, etc.)
3. Cultural Competence:
"Some of the most valuable mental perks of bilingualism can't be measured at all, of course. To speak more than one language is to inherit a global consciousness that opens the mind to more than one culture or way of life"
Cultural competence is perhaps the most valuable skill that any child or adult can have in today's global economy. When you learn a new language, you acquire so much more than new vocabulary terms and tense conjugations. You get an inside view on how people from another culture think. You gain a perspective that would be impossible to understand without knowing the language.