Recent media reports citing scientific research on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism show a movement toward embracing a more multilingual society. Contrary to widespread belief during much of the 20th century, being bilingual positively affects the ability to plan, solve problems and perform mentally demanding tasks, according to a recent New York Times article:
Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.
They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise.
To learn more about how “the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition,” read Yudhijit Bhattacharjee’s article Why Bilinguals Are Smarter.
Parents and Educators, we want to read your comments! What have you noticed about your or your children’s cognition as you/they grapple between two or more languages?