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Benefits of Bilingualism

According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, there are multiple benefits to learning a second language.  Some, but not all, include:

It's Never too Late to Start

Beginning at an early age is always best, because it improves cognitive abilities and development.  But this doesn’t mean that any age is too late to learn a language.  Studies show that there is no single age cut-off when the brain is not able to learn a second language

Cognitive Benefits

There is also evidence that speaking multiple languages helps with attention control on cognitive tasks and helps with memory as well.  Problem solving is another aspect which is sought after in academic and professional settings.  Students who speak multiple languages have an advantage, in that they already see the world as having multiple solutions and answers. A student who has been exposed to multiple languages from infancy on, has already learned that there are multiple words for a single object, one in one language and another in another language.  What is even more fascinating is that many bilingual and multilingual students are able to transfer skills between languages!

Higher Academic Achievement

Students who learn a second language proficiently have higher academic achievement on standardized tests, such as the ACTs and SATs and tend to have higher academic performances at the college level.  Bilingual (and multilingual) students also have an increased linguistic awareness.

Learning multiple languages also translates into the sciences. For example, studies show that students who learn multiple languages are able to hypothesize better.  This is attributed to being able to see multiple solutions or answers to a single question.

Benefits Beyond School

There is also evidence that learning a second language helps to delay age-related cognitive losses.  The theory is that switching and using two or more languages helps the brain to stay active.  And just like you need to exercise your muscles, multiple languages helps to exercise the brain.

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