Being bilingual offers numerous advantages in a number of situations such as travelling or watching TV series without subtitles. However, did you know that there are other benefits like keeping your brain healthy, complex and actively engaged?
Whether you’re a compound, coordinate or subordinate bilingual, you can become proficient in a language regardless of accent or pronunciation, but there are still some less noticeable effects. Neurolinguists are now able to see how specific aspects of language learning affect a bilingual brain. Thanks to these new studies, they developed the so-called “Critical Period Hypothesis”, claiming that there is an ideal time to acquire languages. The results indicate that thanks to their brain plasticity, children would be more efficient when it comes to learning languages.
Being multilingual gives your brain remarkable advantages; for instance, more activity in certain regions of your brain when engaging a second language. It can also delay the onset of certain diseases like Alzheimer’s by five years. It’s surprising to discover that before the 1960s, bilingualism was considered as a disadvantage. Experts thought that children spent too much energy recognizing different languages. Nevertheless, a more recent study showed that the attention needed to switch between languages provoked and strengthened the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that plays the most important role in executive function.
So, while bilingualism may not make you smarter, it makes your brain more healthy and complex. Even if you didn’t have the chance to learn a second language in your childhood, it’s never too late!
- TED-Ed, Mia Nacamulli, The benefits of a bilingual brain, available here (consulted on February 12th, 2018)
Written by Anaïs Gilkin – Terminology Trainee at TermCoord, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpreting, an MA in Translation and Terminology Studies and a Master of Science in Education from the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Very interested in international politics, she focused her MA dissertation on Sharia and its impact on Muslim women. She knows French, English, Spanish and a bit of German and Dutch.