Cognitive Benefits: More Brain Power!
Almost 4 decades of research studies have validated that bilinguals dominate their monolingual peers in cognitive thinking capabilities involving enhanced creativity, memory, focus, problem-solving, flexible thinking, and ability to multi-task (Cummins, 2000; Dalgalian, 2000; Yoshida) Greater neural activity, especially during the preschool years, promotes denser brain tissue known as grey matter in the areas of the brain related to executive function, memory and language.
Biology and Health
Research confirms that learning a second language before age five significantly alters the brain’s structure buy creating more neural connections than monolinguals, resulting in higher brain activity. This increased brain activity is so prominent and predictable that neurologists can identify bilingualism from a brain scan, as early as 11 months! Other studies show that learning foreign languages delays Alzheimers onset by 4 years and delays the onset of dementia (Woumans, 2013, Bialystok 2007; Craik, Freedman, 2010).
Cross-Cultural Understanding and Career
On vacation, it is amazing watching children use their bilingual skillsets to develop cross-cultural friendships. Bilinguals have a wider communication network, allowing them more robust opportunities and synchronicities on a global level. Twenty First Century communities are increasingly interdependent; language fluency and literacy allow a more complete interaction between global teams and peoples. Speaking multiple languages is a valuable skillset, creating additional job opportunities. Bilinguals tend to achieve literacy in two or more languages, allowing them access to more literature information than monolinguals. A wider social net equates to a richer life experience.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that people who are advanced speakers in more than one language outscore monolinguals on tests of verbal and nonverbal intelligence, as well as College SAT exams. (Cloud et al., 2000; Hakuta and Weatherford, 1986)
Self-esteem, Self-Confidence and Heritage
Self-discovery and self-activation are a natural product of bilingual achievement. Young children quickly recognize their accomplishment, which enhances self-esteem and confidence. Learning a language and its associated cultural heritage(s) creates a process of self-discovery, balancing how one views the world and other cultures with our own, creating an appreciation of one’s roots, culture, and family heritage.