Benefits of being multilingual
Obviously speaking more than one language can enhance your career opportunities, make you a versatile conversationalist, and let you skip those pesky subtitles on foreign films. But being multilingual has many more internal benefits since research shows it’s also good for the brain. That’s right, multilingualism can help you filter information to fine-tune your focus when it comes to memory, multitasking and a whole lot more!
Quantity and Quality
Years of switching between different languages arms multilingual people with the mental dexterity needed to become excellent multi-taskers. “Bilinguals are natural jugglers,” explains scientist Viorica Marian, Ph.D., chair of the department of communication sciences and disorders at Northwestern University and co-author of Subcortical Encoding of Sound Is Enhanced in Bilinguals and Relates to Executive Function Advantages.
Paradoxically, multilingual multi-taskers are also excellent at focusing. “The bilingual juggles linguistic input,” continues Marian, “and, it appears, automatically pays greater attention to relevant versus irrelevant sounds.”A 2014 study shows bilingual children are more mentally equipped to ignore classroom noise than their monolingual school mates. With better focus, multilinguals of any age can enjoy greater comprehension than those who speak only one language.
According to Psychology Today, multilingual speakers are more adept at finding creative solutions to problems then monolinguals. Nationwide scores show multilinguals also perform well on standardized tests—perhaps because people who have learned more than one language must memorize more grammatical rules and learn an entirely new vocabulary. As a result, their brains become accustomed to retaining lists and sequences which boost brainpower in other topics such as calculation and reading.
As mentioned, the more languages one knows, the more information the mind holds. Consequently, being multilingual enhances brainpower and boosts a working memory—that’s according to recent research conducted by the University of Granada and the University of York in Toronto.
Evidence from a 2012 study at San Diego’s University of California suggests that speaking multiple languages can help ward off dementia. According to the findings, multilingual speakers mightbe able todelay the Alzheimer’s disease for a few years by flexing their brain muscles to increase gray matter. However,the Mayo Clinic says more research on the subject is needed before such a claim can be substantiated. In the mean time, it’s always a good idea to pick up another language, or two.
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