Joann McPike on the Significant Benefits of Bilingualism

Educators and scientists have gradually shifted their views of bilingualism in children within the last century. New discoveries indicate that the learning of a second language does not hinder intellectual development, or interfere with learning, as it was previously assumed. On the contrary, bilingualism has a positive effect on intellectual development in children and adults alike, and may even aid with the prevention or delay of dementia in old age.

A study in 2004, by psychologists Michelle Martin-Rhee and Ellen Bilaystok showed that bilingual children were faster overall with solving complex mental puzzles. This indicates that bilingualism aids certain aspects of our cognition, such as problem solving, strategy making, switching attention, and memory skills. This positive influence may also be relevant for those who learn languages at a later stage in life, and the cognitive effects have been shown to remain active into old age. A recent San Diego study by neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan indicated that bilingualism aids resistance against the onset of dementia.

About the Author: Joann McPike founded the IB-accredited Think Global School to offer teenagers a rewarding international education experience. Prior to settling with her family in the Bahamas, Joann McPike lived in seven different countries, and has photographed over 100 countries to date.


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