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Bilingualism is an unfair advantage!

a year ago

Becoming Smarter by Becoming Bilingual


Bilingualism is an unfair advantage!

There it is, I've said it. I've let the cat out of the bag!
Because when you can speak more than one language. I mean really speak it, be "in the bones" of the language you have access to a new way of thinking. Don't take my word for it!
Increasing evidence suggests that speaking more than one language does not only improve one’s verbal skills but also more general, non-linguistic cognitive abilities. For instance, bilingual individuals have been demonstrated to outperform monolinguals in problem solving (Bain, 1975), perceptual focusing (Duncan and De Avila, 1979), and the Simon task (e.g., Bialystok et al., 2004; for a general review, see Bialystok and Craik, 2010).
Not only a new way of thinking but it improves many different areas of thinking.
More than two languages? More benefit!
When you learn a language you not only learn how to use the words but you learn the culture behind those words (this is where language courses that try and cut out culture always fail). With that culture, you have access to a new mindset, the mindset of the people whose language you are studying. This doesn't mean you forsake your own culture or mindset, it only means you build on it and mature it into a more cosmopolitan (for lack of a better word) outlook.
If that wasn't enough, that you'd be better at thinking in different ways, more cosmopolitan, be able to access different cultural mindsets and of course look and perform a par above [golfing term] your monolingual counterparts (I didn't bother to mention this because you already knew it). Guess what?
Yes, there is more.
You reduce the "Limitation of Language". With communication we are limited by the words that are prescribed to us. This is why we sometimes see "for lack of a better word" as I used above for cosmopolitan. There may indeed be a better word, but it may not be in English. It may be in French, Spanish or even Tagalog.
In older British texts it was common to see French, German and other words from European languages put into italics comme ("like this" in French). This is because terminology or more specific and accurate words could be found in neighbouring languages. Additionally, it was common for the educated classes (the ones that were reading books in that Era) to speak several European languages or at least enough of the ones being referred to.
An example is the phrase laissez faire which is now used commonly in English conversation. It was referred to so much because of a lack of a better phrase in the English language that it eventually was adopted by the English language. However other words that have been adopted do not always carry their original meaning example are:
Real Estate -> in Indonesian means exclusive homes for the wealthy -> In English it means any land for sale -> in its original Spanish form it meant land owned by the crown (by the king) "real" meaning "royal".
So by learning another language you also can overcome many limitations of your own language, by using your other languages. And this makes you even freer in your thinking because words themselves can limit thinking, as we often "think" in our mother tongue if we are monolingual. So in summary:
You'll have an unfair advantage as an accomplished bilingual because:
1. You'll have a new way of thinking
2. You'll be a more powerful thinker
3. You'll have more access to different mindsets/perceptions
4. You'll look impressive when you speak a foreign language in front of monolinguals (because many of them think you need super powers to learn another language)
5. You'll be freer in explaining things
6. You'll be freer in your thinking
So time for another language?

Note: I write here today because the blog editor is down.