They say that practice makes perfect – and in many ways, this is a very true saying. The more you practice, the better you usually become at something, but some people don’t realize just how profoundly the perfection of foreign language skills can affect the brain. Bilingualism is increasingly common in today’s world, as it slowly but surely becomes a prerequisite for the opportunities that this day and age can provide. Here are some of the ways in which bilingualism affects the brain.
Bilinguals are able to solve mental puzzles quicker than monolinguals.
A study was conducted in which both monolingual and bilingual preschoolers were asked to solve a few simple puzzles. While the initial results were the same, as the puzzles became more complex, the monolingual preschoolers began to lag behind. The simple reasoning behind this is that the brain of a bilingual child tends to work harder, since it is almost always interpreting information between two languages. As a result, it is able to quickly develop solutions.
Bilinguals are more easily able to understand their environments.
When it comes to learning a language, it is not only about being able to speak the other language in question. The individual’s whole mindset changes, and everything around the person is now interpreted in a new way. This shift increases the brain’s capacity to analyze its environment, while many monolinguals do not possess such heightened observation skills.
Because of these heightened senses, the brain is working at a faster rate.
Thanks to these increased analytical abilities, the brain tends to work harder and faster. While this may seem hardly noticeable, bilinguals, in general, are far quicker in their response times. In the brain, both language systems are active at the same time, meaning that the brain functions at twice its capacity when it comes to language – and since language is often what we use to view and interpret the world around us, it affects everything about us.
While it is true that we may never completely understand how the brain works, many of the answers seem to lie in the very things we may undervalue. While learning a new language and becoming bilingual might not seem like a big deal, it does have a far-reaching effect on the brain, heightening our senses in ways that we might not have realized. Language abilities should never be underestimated because they are so closely tied to how we view the world – which is why learning more than one language is important.