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In an increasingly globalizing society, it is better to speak more than one language. However, scientists in the recent past have shown that there are more other advantages to bilingualism than just being able to converse; being bilingual makes a person smarter. The explanation is that being bilingual has a positive effect on our brain and improves cognitive skills as well as shields the speaker against such diseases as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in later years. Previously, researchers and educators used to think that a second language was an interference thus hindering intellectual or academic development. They were right about interference. However now it has been labeled as a blessing because it was proved that the bilingual’s brain is able to resolve its own internal conflict thus to strengthen the mind’s cognitive muscles.   

Scientists have found out that bilinguals are more adept at solving mental puzzles than monolinguals. A study of bilingual and monolingual preschoolers conducted  by psychologists Michelle Martin-Rhee and Ellen Bialystok (2004) affirmed that bilinguals were quicker in performing tasks of sorting images by shape and placing them in a container of a contradicting color. Overall, collective evidence suggests that bilinguals improves the brain’s “executive functions” including remembering directions while driving, ignoring distractions and willfully switching attention from one place to another.

But how does bilingualism improve cognition aspects? Albert Costa who was a lead researcher in the University of Pompeu Fabra, Spain, states that bilinguals have to switch to different languages and this requires keeping track of the changes in the surrounding. For example, in a study that compared Italian-German bilinguals with purely Italian monolinguals, Mr. Costa found out that bilinguals performed better and with a lot of ease. This showed that bilinguals were more efficient at what they were doing.

This bilingual experience is proved to have an effect on the brain from birth to later years. In 2009 Agnes Kovacs, International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy, compared two groups of infants. The first one included babies of around 7-months who were exposed to two languages. The second group was of infants raised as monolinguals from their birth. In the experiment, the babies were shown a puppet on one side of the screen with simultaneous audio cues. Both groups were able to look on the other side of the screen anticipating for the puppet. Next time, the puppet appeared on another side of the screen and here the bilingual infants were able to quickly gaze on the other side unlike the monolingual group. Further experiments have shown that bilingualism effects extend even into the twilight years. In a study of some elder Spanish-English bilinguals, a team led by Tamar Gollan from a University of California, found out that highly bilingual people were more resistant to inception of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It was found that the higher degree of bilingualism in these individuals, the later the onset of these age-related diseases.

Comments

Language is power and we all agree. The article shows that it is better to be bilingual than monolingual as it not only makes one smart, but is a deterrent to some disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Bilingual individuals are better in solving complex problems, better in planning or in being creative. As such, schools should strive to ensure that they teach more than one language. In America for example, we should have English as a mandatory language and one other international languages, let us say, French, Spanish, Italian, or German. This way we will have a society of not only bright fellows who are creative and good planners but also individuals who will experience less of dementia or Alzheimer’s diseases. 

Code: Sample20

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