It improves cognitive skills and fights certain mental diseases.
From Mosaic 12 August In a cafe in south London, two construction workers are engaged in cheerful banter, tossing words back and forth.
Their cutlery dances during more emphatic gesticulations and they occasionally break off into loud guffaws. They are discussing a woman, that much is clear, but the details are lost on me. Out of curiosity, I interrupt them to ask what they are speaking. With friendly smiles, they both switch easily to English, explaining that they are South Africans and had been speaking Xhosa.
In Johannesburg, where they are from, most people speak at least five languages, says one of them, Theo Morris. Was it easy to learn so many languages? Around the world, more than half of people — estimates vary from 60 to 75 per cent — speak at least two languages.
Many countries have more than one official national language — South Africa has So to be monolingual, as many native English speakers are, is to be in the minority, and perhaps to be missing out. Multilingualism has been shown to have many social, psychological and lifestyle advantages.
Moreover, researchers are finding a swathe of health benefits from speaking more than one language, including faster stroke recovery and delayed onset of dementia. At the current rate, half our languages will be extinct by the end of the century Could it be that the human brain evolved to be multilingual — that those who speak only one language are not exploiting their full potential?
And in a world that is losing languages faster than ever — at the current rate of one a fortnight, half our languages will be extinct by the end of the century — what will happen if the current rich diversity of languages disappears and most of us end up speaking only one?
View image of Credit: Getty Images I am sitting in a laboratory, headphones on, looking at pictures of snowflakes on a computer. As each pair of snowflakes appears, I hear a description of one of them through the headphones.
All I have to do is decide which snowflake is being described. The only catch is that the descriptions are in a completely invented language called Syntaflake. As you might expect, his lab is a Babel of different nationalities and languages — but no one here grew up speaking Syntaflake.
The task is profoundly strange and incredibly difficult. Usually, when interacting in a foreign language, there are clues to help you decipher the meaning. The speaker might point to the snowflake as they speak, use their hands to demonstrate shapes or their fingers to count out numbers, for example.
After a time, though, I begin to feel a pattern might be emerging with the syntax and sounds. The experience reminds me of a time I arrived in a rural town a few hours outside Beijing and was forced to make myself understood in a language I could neither speak nor read, among people for whom English was similarly alien.
I join Athanasopoulos for a chat while my performance is being analysed by his team. Glumly, I recount my difficulties at learning the language, despite my best efforts. But it appears that was where I went wrong: But your brain is primed to work it out subconsciously. Getty Images The first words ever uttered may have been as far back asyears ago, once our ancestors stood up on two legs and freed the ribcage from weight-bearing tasks, allowing fine nerve control of breathing and pitch to develop.In the elderly population, being bilingual may offer even more advantages.
Research suggests bilingual older adults have greater cognitive reserve, a "protective mechanism that increases the brain's ability to cope with pathology.".
The most obvious advantage of being bilingual is that an individual has the opportunity to engage and be a part of two different and diverse communities without feeling excluded.
However, it is extremely challenging for monolinguals to step out of their comfort zone and communicate with people who do not speak the same language as they do. Benefits of being bilingual Research has shown that the brains of children who grew up speaking two different languages develop better cognitive functions.
Scientists who examined the phenomenon gave it a specific name – the bilingual advantage.
Bilingual dictionary definition | bilingual defined. Jul 18, · The kids in bilingual classes in Utah and elsewhere aren’t thinking much about the nature of their brains when they go to school each morning; they’re only aware of the rich and lyrical experience of living and learning bilingually.
But scientists — particularly neurologists, psychologists and educational specialists — are watching closely. Workplace Benefits of Being Bilingual Knowing more than one language can give you a big boost professionally, and in today’s economy, that’s something everyone can use.