Being Bilingual

People have very different opinions on what bilingualism really is. For some it means speaking two languages fluently and with little to no effort rather strongly consider a person bilingual, if it has perfect pronounciation in both languages and makes very few grammatical errors while talking.

The truth is that, even with a bad accent and making some mistake, being able to speak in two or more languages rather than one has practical benefits in an increasingly globalised world.

Multilingualism

Multilingualism has been shown to have many psychological and social advantages that can go something simply as

  • watching movies with no subtitles
  • to having less problems in traveling and
  • even getting a job or business opportunities specially in tourist areas.

Types of Bilingualism

It is considered to be two types of Bilingualism

1. Compound Bilingualism

Compound Bilingualism, also called addictive Bilingualism happens for example when a child is raised by bilingual parents and both languages are used in home, the child grows when both languages are used simultaneously in the same environment.

With this type of Bilingualism, the person does not see the two languages as separate it is common to hear such people speaking different languages in the same sentence or using a word of a different language from the one they’re talking to better express themselves.

2. Coordinate Bilingualism

This is the second type of Bilingualism also know as Subtractive Bilingualism. In this type, the person perceive two languages as separate because he learns them separately and in different environments in context.

I am an example of coordinate Bilingualism, most of the time i talk Hindi when I’m in my college environment or to people who talks only that language, I use the language specifically for those context but to my family members i usually talk in Bengali which is my native language, the language related to my home environment. I see these two language as separate since I learned and used them in completely different environments.

Officially Monolingual Countries

Only a few countries in the world including the U.S, England, and Australia are officially Monolingual but even in these countries only a considerable percent of people who speaking and understand more than one language.

Advantage

Researchers suggest that bilingualism can slow the advance of age-related mental issues such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s by up to 4 years.

Also in bilingual adult, brain tissue called grey matter is denser compared with Monolingual adults.

Although speaking more than one language does not necessarily make you more intelligent person, it helps stimulates and increase brain connections. Learning a new language is like an excercise to the brain that will improve your Cognitive skills and even if you grew up in a Monolingual environment, it is never too late to start learning a different language.

Multilingualism

Multilingualism a skill set exhibited by two-third of the population still is seriously misunderstood. It is a common belief that learning another language is just a waste of time, children should focus more on cramming books rather than exploring. It is also said that learning another language is of no use if the child/person speaks the language of the majority as this skill would not help to reap financial rewards. Many people also believe that being multilingual could confuse the child and lower their cognitive abilities. Such claims are false as learning another not only helps to flex our mind muscles but also increases our cognitive capabilities, better problem-solving skills, and also improves learning capabilities. Just like exercise is important for toning the body and enhancing its capabilities, similarly learning a language is the exercise which the brain requires in order to tone itself. Empirical studies have shown that multilingualism has great positive impacts on the gray matter of the brain. Language carries cultures, traditions, and thus able to speak more than one language enables one to take multiple sensibilities, tastes, and possibly even identities. Studies were carried out on bilingual women who could speak Japanese and English by psycholinguist Ervin-Tripp who found out that when given the same opening statements in different languages had different endings. This concluded that thought occurs in language, therefore knowledge of more languages refines the thought process too. Bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions because language contains nuance and subtle implications that influence your judgment subconsciously. Multilingualism is not a new skill rather it has been there for ages, aboriginal hunter-gatherers survived because they could understand and convey through their as well as other’s community, to know about the possible dangers lurking around. The rule used to be that one mustn’t marry anyone in the same tribe or clan to have a child. Marrying within one’s clan used to be taboo. The part of the brain that manages the cognitive skills is the ACC ( anterior cingulate cortex)  or the executive system. ACC is located on the frontal lobe that enables us to concentrate on one task while blocking out competing information. Learning languages developed this part, therefore, enhancing cognitive skills. Multilingualism also delays mental decline in old age, slows down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Bilinguals who tend to develop Alzheimer’s tend to display less decay in cognitive abilities than monolinguals patients. It is also assumed that multilingual speak each of their languages equally. This is amusing as well as tragic because no matter how long you have been studying a language if you don’t use it around you might forget it. Learning language is as fun as it is useful therefore everyone should give it a shot. Find ways to learn languages, there is an ample amount of sources to learn languages online, and with the world connected better than ever, it has gone too lucid. 

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