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  • Advantages of Being Bilingual

    Advantages of Being Bilingual

    The benefits of teaching children two languages ​​since childhood are many while the contraindications are null. This is an advantage that will provide lifelong benefits. This opportunity is very beneficial to their development. Several studies show the advantages of a bilingual brain. Children exposed to two different languages, from the first months, learn to use both naturally, and will be bilingual. In this post, I will discuss the advantages of being bilingual.  

    There are many parents who choose to teach their children two languages. This converts them in bilingual children. While it may be a laborious task, it is accompanied by many advantages. The bilingual child is one who can understand and, to a greater or lesser degree, speak two languages. The decision of parents to teach their child two languages ​​can be beneficial, but should be considered carefully as it will be a laborious task, very important for the children cognitive development.

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    Being bilingual is about speaking, or at least understanding two different languages. However, there are different levels of bilingualism. While for some being bilingual means knowing two languages ​​to perfection, for others it’s the ability to communicate in two languages, but knowing one better. In general, the risk of problems of confusion or language development is very low, when both languages ​​are introduced in the first months of the child. However, a delay in learning both languages ​​does not necessarily mean this will be a bad approach.

    Within the most known advantages, it is worth mentioning the following:

    Cultures: Access to two different cultures enriches the child’s education (literature, history, behaviors, traditions, conversations, media, etc).

    Knowledge: Access to diversity stimulates intellectual development capacity of a bilingual child. Therefore, they can be more creative, more flexible, and acquire a more open mind to the world and others.

    Job Opportunities: The labor market doors will open and offer more opportunities for bilingual people.

    Health benefits: Even a second language learned at school may delay Alzheimer’s

    For decades, researchers dealt into the effects on the human brain and the knowledge of two different languages. Long gone are those debates when people thought that learning two languages ​​could create confusion in the brain, especially for children. It is inevitable to the passage through periods of confusion, when kids mix the two languages, pick up words and start using them over and over in the same sentence. The fact that there may be a word in a language does not necessarily mean this term has translation in the other and, above all, it is not true that the same terms translate the same concept.

    After many studies and trial-error examinations, researchers found that bilingual people are capable of activating two languages ​​at the same time, even in situations in which they just need one. According to statistics, bilingual attention not only improves memory, but it also trains the brain, as if it were a kind of mental gymnastics.

    Believe it or not, bilingual kids are able to discern between two unfamiliar languages. Even though they may have never heard such language, children will be able to distinguish only by the facial expressions of those who appeared in the video. Evidence states that bilingualism extends the perceptual capacity of the brain.

    Benefits of Being Bilingual

    While there are many benefits, all these advantages don’t mean that bilinguals are smarter or learn better. In most cases, Scientifics findings show that yes, these people are capable of multitasking easily, that is, they are able to process several tasks simultaneously and quickly disregard irrelevant information that the brain perceives. This is just fantastic!

    As stated, using two languages ​​every day allows delaying- an average of four years- the onset of Alzheimer’s. While the biggest advantages are seen in people who practice both languages daily, researchers point out that even in summer practice that second language learned at school can be beneficial against dementia.

    All in all, learning the basics of a foreign language since childhood is a great opportunity. Pedagogy studies confirm that growing with a second language, promotes open-mindedness. However, there are several attitudes that can hinder the child’s language development.

    Furthermore, considering the time when the tongues are inserted, the process may be different:

    – From simultaneous introduction: Both languages ​​are introduced at the same time. Teaching the different languages from borth is most recommended it makes learning easier.
    – Sequential Introduction:  Parents first introduce a language, and when the child acquires the basis of learning this language, the next one is introduced.

    The simultaneous acquisition process is very similar to that of monolingual development, with the only difference that the kid develops the ability to recognize the two language systems without a single issue.

    What about language mixtures? Switching from one language to another seems to stimulate the brain. In addition to cognitive improvement, bilingualism causes physical changes in the brain structure. Bilingual children show differences in how they develop language and cognitive skills through the early school years.

    Experts have observed that children who grow up speaking two languages ​​have slower language acquisition in each language that children raised to speak in one language. However, they have better Meta linguistic development, which gives them a deeper understanding of the structure of language, a skill that is important for learning. Research has shown children have the ability to concentrate (executive control) to focus attention when required without being distracted.

    In short, experts make emphasis on the diversity of the groups of bilingual children. Children who are bilingual are claimed to be in a degree of similarity between the languages, results are very different from each other.

    Moreover, other factors contribute to the outcome. It is worth mentioning the cultural background, migration history of their family and the language they learn in school. They also note that despite this diversity, all bilinguals tend to master executive control and outperformed monolinguals tasks. To conclude, the best performance on language tasks will be determined by many factors and it is relevant to consider top teaching techniques. I hope this post has helped you understand the advantages of being bilingual.

    Image Credit: (Flicker Andreeva.leno)

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