Bilingualism is good for the brain

Though for some bilingual education can be controversial topic, new research shows that being bilingual is good for the brain.

The L.A. Times highlighted research presented at American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. demonstrating that the constant back-and-forth between two languages means frequent exercise for the brain’s so-called “executive control functions,” which is responsible for keeping a person focused. Neuroscience researchers say among the positive consequences of bilingualism are:

  • Bilingual children are more effective at multi-tasking.
  • Adults who speak more than one language do a better job prioritizing information in potentially confusing situations.
  • Being bilingual helps ward off early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.
  • Being bilingual strengthens the prefrontal cortex of the brain tasked with focusing one’s attention, ignoring distractions and holding multiple pieces of information in mind when trying to solve a problem.

It all makes sense to me… I have always been great at “tuning-out” unnecessary sounds and listening to what was important. It is a necessary blessing when “white noise” growing up was the combination of the clacking pots and whistling espresso makers of a full-time Latin household kitchen in preparation of the constant “visitas” from family and friends, the endless hours of tele-novelas, the non-stop Spanish radio (always leave it on if we leave the house), and the orders from the adults of what to do, or not do throughout the day… Believe me, my ability to “focus,” has helped me in endless ways. I am positive being a Hispanic bilingual American is an integral part of that ability.

Thanks to the National Society for Hispanic Professional for mentioning this article in their newsletter.

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