Bilingualism and Cognitive Development
“The ability of
a person to
speak two languages.”
Introduction and History
Bilingualism is becoming more common in the modern era. Nearly half of the
world’s population speak more
than one language on regular basis. At
the start of 20th century it was considered that if we learn two
languages simultaneously in early life, it can affect cognitive functions and
educational performance and can cause confusion. It has been a matter of great concern
for researchers, educators and parents.
Early research in the field of psychology showed
that bilingualism may cause
confusion and interfere with cognitive
development. Some research studies also show that bilingual
children give slow response in language learning
and processing. Their verbal scores were also
found very low as compared to monolingual.
and advantages of Bilingualism
studies show that bilinguals and monolinguals do not significantly differ in the final depth of language learning and understanding. In fact,
being bilingual makes the brain stronger,
mainly in the areas of
language, attention and memory. Peoples who speak two languages
have been found to have better cognitive development, functioning, cognitive flexibility, analytic and listening
skills as compared to monolinguals.
They are better at reading and writing, multitasking and solving problems. They are more creative having a sharp memory. They may understand the concepts more easily.
One reason for the bilingual advantage is that bilingual children learn to reduce the interferences between their two languages to speak only one. Another
possibility is that bilingualism may trains children to focus their attention on the relevant variables in
the context, particularly information that is ambiguous or contradictory
Changes In brain
It has also found that learning and speaking a second language produces changes in the organization of the brain areas in the left hemisphere that is involved in language, such that this area is denser and
contains more neurons. Furthermore, there is
increased density in gray matter of those
individuals who are most proficient in their second
language and who learned the second language earlier. Brain scans show that the people who speak
multiple languages have distinct pattern of brain activity. Thus, rather than slowing language
development, learning a second language seems to increase cognitive abilities.
research has shown that bilingualism does not cause confusion and does not have
any negative impact on cognitive development. Some studies show that in early
stages of second language acquisition, some developmental lags may occur in
bilinguals as compared to monolinguals, but it does not matter much as it seems
very small and not long lasting rather bilinguals have many advantages. They have
better socio-cognitive development. Bilingualism provides protection from cognitive
declines that are typically occur in late adulthood.