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The benefits of bilingualism

The Daily – Anni Hong

“Being bilingual is great for your brain; there are major cognitive benefits to being able to speak two languages. For a long time it was believed that two languages would compete in a person’s brain and become confusing — this is why in the past many parents refused to have their child learn two languages. However, a study conducted by psychologists Michelle Martin-Rhee and Ellen Bialystok in 2004 proved the opposite to be true. In this study, children were asked to sort digital images of circles and squares into bins based on their color and then by their shape. Children who were bilingual were able to organize the images when their color opposed the color of the bin more quickly than children who only spoke one language. This study helped prove that bilinguals have a stronger executive functio than monolinguals. The executive function, a system that the brain uses to plan and solve problems, helps us keep our attention while distractions are present, and it also helps switch our attention back and forth. It is currently believed that bilingualism improves the executive function because bilingual people need to monitor their environment in order to choose a language to speak and be able to quickly switch between languages.”(more)

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