The Cognitive, Social & Cultural Benefits of Bilingualism
Bilingualism opens many cognitive and cultural pathways for our young students.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, bilingualism has become the norm. According to recent United Nations figures, up to 80% of the world’s population speaks at least two languages, and three languages is not uncommon. 1/5 of the population in the United States describe themselves as “bilingual”. Bilingualism is a hallmark of the twenty-first century.
In the past 50 years, neuroscientists and psychologists have uncovered a wealth of scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that learning another language at a young age strengthens cognitive and linguistic development in children.
As a result of these cognitive “boosts” received early in life, students who are bilingual perform highly in academic settings. The list below highlights some of the many benefits of being a bilingual student:
They acquire strong analytical and critical-thinking skills at an earlier age.
They are able to focus more intently and for longer periods of time, and can switch between tasks more efficiently.
Becoming bilingual at an early age increases vocabulary, knowledge of grammar and recognition of sounds and visual signs. This leads to better writing and speaking skills.
Bilinguals develop flexible problem-solving abilities which strengthen their math and science skills.
Bilingualism also fosters cross-cultural interaction; in the classroom, it is the most effective tool for promoting an open-minded and global worldview for students and creating a multicultural context for learning.
Learning another language is the most fundamental aspect of becoming fully immersed in another culture.
Bilingualism has been linked to lower the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia in adults.
And for even more information about bilingualism, we have collected some of our favorite articles from recent years below.
- Podcast: les mystères du cerveau bilingue, avec Ellen Bialystok
- “Fostering Bilingualism in Children: An Overview of Key Questions & Best Practices” by Jérémie Séror, PhD
- Creating Bilingual Minds | Naja Ferjan Ramirez | TEDxLjubljana
- The Benefits of Being Bilingual: Working Memory in Bilingual Turkish–Dutch Children