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The Greeley Voice

The Benefits of Being Bilingual

There are many scientific benefits to being bilingual, which can be applied both inside of the classroom as well as within general society.
When it comes to cognition, being bilingual allows the brain to be working constantly when switching between two languages.

There are many ways to activate the brain to allow it to be stronger, comprehend information faster, and focus better in learning environments. One way to do this is by learning a second language. There are many scientific benefits to being bilingual, which can be applied both inside of the classroom as well as within general society.

Bilingualism is defined as being able to speak fluently in two different languages. As of 2023, approximately 3.3 billion people around the world are bilingual; in fact, learning a second language is often encouraged in schools. There are many benefits of being bilingual, such as cognitive development, social emotional development, and greater success in the future. In fact, ninety-one percent of public schools across the United States offer foreign languages at the high school level. Over fifty percent of middle schools also offer foreign languages, allowing younger students to have the privilege of learning a second language.

The biology of monolingual versus bilingual brains is also different. For example, brains are made up of gray matter, which consists of neurons—bilingual brains have more of these neurons, which makes their gray matter denser. But the amount of gray matter is not the only difference; there is also a difference in the brain’s white matter, a system of nerve fibers that connects the four lobes of the brain. These nerve fibers are crucial for general brain activity, serving as communication links between each part of the brain. Adults who are fluent in two or more languages have increased white matter integrity. Moreover, according to a study done in Sweden, learning new languages has an effect on brain size. The study involved two groups of people: one group that specifically studied foreign languages, and the other group that mainly studied non-linguistic subjects. Study participants took MRI scans, which showed that the brains of the language learners increased in size, while the non-language learner showed no signs of a size change.

When it comes to cognition, being bilingual allows the brain to be working constantly when switching between two languages. A bilingual person is also more adept at gathering large volumes of information compared to a monolingual person. This is because after the brain has built strength from learning and knowing two languages, it can comprehend new information easier. In addition to this, bilingual people are able to pick up new languages faster than monolingual people because of these psychological advantages.

Being bilingual in the classroom also has its advantages. (


Being bilingual in the classroom also has its advantages. Students may be able to take more flexible approaches to thinking through different types of problems. This complex thinking a person performs while being in school is critical in all subject areas. In fact, bilingual students outperform their monolingual peers when it comes to tasks that require executive control or self-discipline. Moreover, bilingual students also learn to read faster because of their prior knowledge of two languages—the fact that they begin to experience language from an extremely early age, as early as being in the womb. Dr. Nell Duke from the University of Michigan reports that parents who read to their babies while in the womb enables them to have “a positive memory or association” with language. Research shows that once out of the womb, babies in the beginning stages of life show better self-control, an extremely crucial skill that takes time to learn. Mrs. Pallant, Spanish 2 and 9 teacher, states, “Research suggests that bilingualism can positively impact academic performance, particularly in areas like literacy, mathematics, and standardized testing. For students, bilingualism is basically a superpower.”

In addition to being advantageous in the classroom, bilingualism can also improve childrens’ social emotional development. Children who are bilingual have strong ties with their family, community and their culture, which may improve their social skills. Bilingual children also have an easier time making friends with whom they share a second language with. Two children who speak the same foreign language can relate to one another, in a way that they may not be able to do with another classmate or friend.

The benefits of being bilingual contribute to a person’s long term success as well. Children who learned a new language in their early years take the language, as well as the skills of learning the language, with them into their adult life. Today, one-half to two-thirds of adults are bilingual and have many advantages in their daily life. For example, those who are fluent in a second language have more job opportunities as certain companies and organizations are looking for individuals who can speak more than one language. Furthermore, bilingual people have more ties within their community. Sra. Pallant, whose parents are from Colombia, supports this, saying, “Bilingualism fosters a deeper appreciation and understanding of different cultures, traditions, and perspectives. It helps maintain a connection to one’s cultural roots and heritage.” Freshman Daphne Svhil, who speaks both English and Hebrew, also says, “I can communicate with others who are a part of my culture. Having a connection to others who speak Hebrew helps me realize who I am as a person and helps shape my identity.” Those who are bilingual can learn from other people who speak the same language and they can connect with them on a more personal level. This helps to broaden scopes of people, not just in local communities, but globally as well.

Being bilingual can have a positive impact on one’s life in so many social ways. People from all over the world now interact with each other on a daily basis, and knowing another language is beneficial for community-building and cultural integration. More importantly, the academic and psychological gains from being bilingual are extremely beneficial for brain activity and development, as well as for children’s social emotional well being. With the world constantly changing, knowledge of new languages will continue to benefit everyone intellectually and learning about other’s unique ties with the world.

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