S.T.E.A.M. Day

Cognitive benefits of bilingualism

There are many debates surrounding bilingualism but what is certain is that there are tangible, cognitive and social-emotional benefits associated with being bilingual. Below we will go over how raising bilingual children can benefit them during school life and help them maintain healthy cognitive function in the long term. 


Improvements in learning

When bilingual children speak, they subconsciously think in both languages and train their control mechanisms. This is why bilingual children are often better at tasks that require conflict resolution because they can more efficiently sort through and ignore irrelevant information. This skill is called inhibitory control, and it is essential during information processing (especially when your child is learning something new). Specifically, bilingual children are better at learning and identifying new vocabulary, distinguishing new information from old, and learning new languages which can have positive effects on social skills. 


Improved attention and inhibition

Children aged 7 months and up from bilingual households showed increased brain activation in regions that are associated with attention and inhibition. In a study involving bilingual and monolingual infants as young as 7 months, researchers found that only the bilingual babies were able to successfully navigate the challenge. This implies that bilingualism can be beneficial to areas outside of language acquisition. 


Increased brain network efficiency 

Bilingualism also has long-term benefits. As people age they experience a natural decline of cognitive function; bilingual experiences help keep cognitive mechanisms sharp. Studies have shown that bilingualism increases brain network efficiency and improves cognitive reserve. Bilingual individuals also experienced better memory and executive control relative to monolingual people. If you compare the brain to an engine, bilingual people have better fuel efficiency and mileage which allows them to go farther with the same amount of fuel.