About the Unmissable Ability for the SXXI

There is a lot of evidence suggesting that adults who have spoken more than one language since childhood show better mental skills. The Woman Post brings you all the benefits of having a multilingual brain.

Woman teaching English through a tablet

Photo: Freepik

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

As Mia Nacamulli explained in her TED video, "The benefits of a bilingual brain," a person that speaks two languages develops two linguistic codes simultaneously. According to the expert, specific aspects of language learning affect the brain.

Thanks to advanced technology, neurolinguistics can precisely see how a bilingual brain works. It's well known that the brain's left hemisphere is more logical and analytical, while the right hemisphere is more emotional and active on the social aspect. Researchers have found interesting the fact that language involves both aspects: the analytical and logical, and the emotional and social.

Children learn new languages more quickly because their brain is still developing. For this reason, they use both hemispheres in language acquisition. While in adults, this process focuses only on one hemisphere, usually the left.

While children learn languages more emotionally, adults tend to show a more rational approach when facing difficulties in a second language. However, it's never too late to learn. Nacamulli highlights some advantages of having a multilingual brain. The visible ones include higher density in the part that contains most neurons and more activity in different regions when using a second language. Speaking more than one language can also help prevent some diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

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Before the 1960s, scientists believed that bilingualism slowed a child's development. The reason was that kids had to spend too much energy distinguishing one language from the other. And although recent research has proved that some bilingual students tend to make more errors while learning, they have a higher ability to problem-solving, focus while filtering out irrelevant information, and switch between tasks.

Nacamulli concludes that while a bilingual brain doesn't necessarily make someone more intelligent, it does make their brain more actively engaged, complex, and healthier. Even if someone didn't learn a second language as a child, the expert insists that it's never too late to develop a bilingual brain.

There is a lot of evidence suggesting that adults who have spoken more than one language since childhood show better mental skills. Another benefit is increased cognitive ability, which can be very useful in any situation. For Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky, bilingualism can protect brain performance and allow people to use their brains more efficiently.

Long-term memory and better comprehension are some of the bilingual people's skills. Learning how to think and communicate in another language is not easy. However, it allows our brain to develop more in certain regions.

Besides the benefits of knowing more than one language, there are other important things to point out. Being exposed to other cultures increases people's levels of empathy and teaches them to see things from different perspectives.

There's no doubt that the benefits of having a multilingual brain are endless and very impressive. Dual language immersion programs offer a unique and innovative approach to learning about other cultures and languages more easily. Kids that learn new languages are more likely to embrace diversity and value more inclusivity.

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