The Bilingual Advantage

The Bilingual Edge

Learning multiple languages from a young age can benefit greatly to children. Mastering multiple languages has an impact on the functioning of the brain, on the academics capabilities of children, on their social skills and on their economic future.

Neurological Advantage

Bilingualism as an experience has a profound and clear impact on the structure and organization of the brain. Bilinguals benefit from lifelong advantages in problem solving thanks to the constant rewiring of their executive control system. Bilinguals’ constant need to process information in two languages activates the executive control system more intensely and more efficiently. Moreover, learning to speak two languages from childhood also pays off in old age. Elderly bilinguals perform problem-solving tasks with high success, without utilizing certain areas of the brain particularly vulnerable to aging.

Economic Advantage

Being bilingual at a young age can lead to many more opportunities to study and work abroad. Companies that employ bilingual people benefit materially with translation and interpretation services, facilitating communication with a larger clientele. In addition to the obvious assets of cultural and linguistic competencies, bilingual candidates are often preferred in the workforce as they have the ability to quickly adapt to new environments. These cutting-edge advantages can lead, subsequently, to higher salaries and more comprehensive access to the global job market.

Academic Advantage

Dual-language learning is the only method of second language acquisition that facilitates the full closure of the achievement gap between English learners and English speakers in primary and secondary schools. Furthermore, bilingual students outperform their monolingual peers on standardized tests—concrete evidence of the success of dual-language programs. Well-structured and well-implemented dual-language instruction across all subjects of the curriculum afford all students the opportunity to develop a deep academic proficiency in both languages, and in other subjects.

Social Advantage

Bilinguals can communicate with far more people around the globe and, as a result, have access to far more literary, academic, and artistic works, as well as professional and social networks, than monolinguals. Bilinguals also learn other languages more easily than their monolingual peers because after mastering a second language, individuals are able to call upon the strategies they employed to acquire a third or fourth language. Finally, bilingualism fosters an attitude of multiculturalism and open-mindedness. Bilingualism opens doors to a wide range of cultures and communities that would have remained otherwise closed off to a monolingual person. Instead of having one linguistic “home” or comfort zone, bilinguals have many. As one might expect, a multilingual life is extraordinarily rich, diverse, and full of possibilities. As geographical barriers continue to dissolve in this era of globalization, borders no longer restrain the spread of ideas and cultures throughout the world. The complex identity of the bilingual is more relevant today than it has ever been, and will continue to play an increasingly important role in the future.

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