Thinking about learning French? 5 Stats that prove being bilingual has its fair share of perks…
As if you needed more convincing, bilingual people really do have several lifestyle advantages. Ranging from increased cognitive skills, salary bumps, to serious street cred, bilinguals really are DIFFERENT, and in the best possible way!
- Bilinguals look different – at least on brain imaging scans…
According to cognitive neuropsychologist Jubin Abutalebi, bilinguals have significantly more grey matter on their brain scans than their monolingual counterparts. Grey matter indicates anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) function, which is the part of the brain that allows people to stay focused on one task, while blocking out interference from others. Because bilingual people are constantly using their ACC function to suppress the non-target language when completing a specific linguistic task, it’
It’s no surprise their grey matter is significantly larger (Vince, 2016).
- Bilinguals age better
Bilingualism helps slow down the process of cognitive decline. Psycholinguist Ellen Bialystok believes bilingualism helps us stay “mentally fit”. That is to say, bilingualism re-wires the brain to improve cognitive function, which protects people from mental injury and decay. Accordingly, a bilingual person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will show the same symptoms of a monolingual person, 4 or 5 years later. Similarly, bilingual people are twice as likely to re-gain full cognitive function after a stroke, as compared to monolinguals (Bialystok, 2001).
- Bilinguals are the majority … outside of the U.S. that is.
Of course, in addition to getting discounts and being able to get around more easily in foreign countries, speaking more than one language is common place in most of the world.
One-half to two-thirds of adults around the world speak at least two languages (Zelasko and Antunez, 2000). In our global society, they have many advantages. Bilingual individuals have the opportunity to participate in the global community in more ways, get information from more places, and learn more about people from other cultures.
Plus, being able to communicate is the best feeling in the world.
- Bilinguals are more employable
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bilingual job candidates are 66% more likely to get hired. Bilingual adults have more job opportunities around the world than monolingual adults (Zelasko and Antunez, 2000). Research shows that they also earn an average of $7,000 more per year than their monolingual peers (Fradd, 2000).
In the American job market, you’re totally putting yourself in another tier if you can speak second language. Parlez-vous français?
- Bilinguals get to try on different personalities
Those who can speak different languages often feel a shift in their personality depending on which language they’re speaking because they’re forced to use words that may not exist in another language. For example, in 1968, sociolinguist Susan Ervin studied Japanese women living in the States who were bilingual: She asked them to complete a series of sentences in both languages, and found that not only was the wording different, but the intention was different, too — because of the cultural differences associated with each language (Rob, 2014).
In 2003, this was again confirmed by linguists Jean-Marc Dewaele and Aneta Pavlenko over a two-year study of thousands of bilinguals. Of those who participated in the study, two-thirds reported that they really did “feel like a different person,” when speaking another language (Robb, 2014).
I guess this explains why I feel like Marie Antoinette whenever I break out my French.
So what are you waiting for? Parler, chanter, or lire your way into a better future.
Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy, and cognition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Fradd, S. (2000). Developing a language-learning framework for preparing Florida’s multilingual work force. In S. Fradd, (Ed.), Creating Florida’s multilingual global work force, 3. Miami: Florida Department of Education.
Robb, A. (2014). Multi-linguals Have Multiple Personalities. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/117485/multilinguals-have-multiple-personalities
Vince, G. (2016, August 8). The Incredible Benefits of Being Bilingual. Retrieved from http://digg.com/2016/bilingual-benefits?utm_medium=email&utm_source=digg
Zelasko, N., & Antunez, B. (2000). If your child learns in two languages. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education. Retrieved from http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/files/uploads/9/If YourChild LearnsInTwoLangs_English.pdf