Bilingualism and multilingualism are becoming increasingly important topics of study around the world.
In this day and age, where it is possible to travel anywhere in the world, where information is shared in all languages almost instantaneously and where mastering a second language opens up a whole new array of professional avenues, it seems quite normal to wonder about the advantages of bilingualism and multilingualism.
While you don’t grow new brain cells as you age, learning a new language can help keep your brain sharp and active as you get older. The more intense the brain activity, the more the brain’s capacities continue to develop. It is completely possible to learn a second or third language at any age!
But what are the benefits of speaking one or more languages?
A sharper mind
According to research by Ana Inés Ansaldo of the University of Montreal, bilingual brains have a “neuronal reserve,” meaning that they have more gray matter than the brains of monolinguals. This according to research by Ana Inés Ansaldo of the University of Montreal.
In fact, people who master two or more languages have faster, more efficient brain activity. This is because bilinguals must constantly choose between the two sets of vocabulary present in their memory, creating a greater number of nerve connections than a monolingual person might.
Bilinguals filter information better. Thanks to their ability to juggle two sets of vocabulary, bilinguals are quicker to use precise vocabulary and to identify the information they really need.
This mental acuity is also evident in crisis situations. Bilinguals often find it easier to solve problems and are quicker to deal with them.
A stronger professional life
Speaking several languages allows you to develop your career and expand your career path by opening new doors. This can mean promotions and better communication with clients, which can increase your income.
If you are looking for a job, being multilingual is a real asset and can greatly improve your job prospects.
Several languages, several cultures
You cannot fully learn a language without learning the culture to which it belongs.
This multiculturalism offers an open-mindedness that is often exceptional to language learners. By having a tool for comparison, they are able to analyze their native culture and more easily accept others’ cultures.
The social and community benefits of bilingualism, such as heritage continuity, cultural vitality, informed and responsible citizenship, improved educational outcomes, social and economic inclusion, and networking and social relationships all contribute to bilingual students’ success.
Nimble minds, improved health
A 2010 study by a group of neuropsychology researchers at Baycrest in Canada showed that bilingualism can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since then, several studies have shown that bilingual people with this degenerative disease develop symptoms much later than patients who speak only one language.
In other words, being bilingual is truly an investment in the future.
The good news is that you don’t have to be perfectly bilingual to enjoy these advantages. All you have to do is start learning a second language and work on it regularly.