If you are bilingual –that is, when you speak and read fluently 2 different languages– then you are a very fortunate person. This means that the benefits of being bilingual may be far greater than you ever imagined. In fact, there is a lot of research studying bilingualism.
In this sense, researchers have highlighted clear advantages in academic performance, mental health, and even future success. That is what they refer to as the “bilingual advantage”. When they are applied to everyday life, many of these amazing benefits may surprise you in more than one single way!
But, what are the key benefits of being bilingual?
Among the many benefits, you may find that being bilingual will also help you to:
Show a better command of your native language! Speaking a second language can often reinforce the grasp of your native language. To learning, you must have focused on the mechanics of the language, such as sentence structure, grammar, and conjugations. As you become more aware of how a language is structured and utilized, you will develop better communication skills.
Indeed, learning a foreign language makes you pay more attention to features such as grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. This makes you more aware of language, and the ways it can be structured and manipulated. These skills can make you become a more effective communicator and a sharper editor and writer. Even your listening processes will be sharpened as you become more accustomed to subtle tones and their meanings. That is why 2nd language speakers are said to develop a better ear for listening since they become skilled at distinguishing the meanings from whether simple or complex sounds.
Minimize the cognitive damage through aging! Even as we reach maturity, the benefits of being bilingual continue to serve us. As we age, our cognitive flexibility begins to wane; that is to say, we become slower and less able to adapt to unexpected and unfamiliar situations. Yet speakers of second languages have shown reduced and delayed damage as they age.
On the other hand, research studies have noted that speaking a second language has a profound effect on Alzheimer’s patients. In fact, many of the symptoms, such as confusion and memory loss, can be delayed by up to 5 years.
Develop better cognitive skills! Bilingualism has been seen to enhance essential brain functions during focusing and demanding mental tasks. Then, when it comes to creativity and problem-solving, studies have shown a clear advantage for children who speak 2 languages.
Since they must subconsciously choose words from a certain language, they gain more practice at selecting vital information over trivial details. As a result, bilinguals have the upper hand when it comes to dismissing distractions and multitasking.
There is additional evidence that suggests bilinguals make more rational decisions. In this regard, our natural human emotional bias is greatly diminished when using a second language. As we gain emotional distance and shift our focus on to information, we find ourselves performing more rational responses.
Learn another foreign language with ease! When children learn a second language, they can often pick up another with much less difficulty than others. Bilinguals have a clear advantage when relating to these linguistic skills: developing the listening processes, categorizing word classes, processing information, finding rhymes by word association, improving communication, increasing vocabulary, finding alternative solutions.
Have more job opportunities! Since there are huge multi-national companies who open offices internationally, they also manufacture on foreign lands and sell products in global markets. Employees who can speak more than one of these languages are in great demand, plus it makes you stand out from the rest.
Moreover, innovations in telecommunications and internet technology have opened up countless opportunities for business in foreign markets. Now, bicultural individuals are being increasingly seen as great assets to help business connect with these markets.
Increase your money earning potential! While your earning potential will vary considerably depending on your language and field, being bilingual is always advantageous. In fact, data from Salary.com showed that certain jobs were willing to pay 5% or 20% higher hourly wage for bilingual candidates.
In fact, it is estimated that average bilingual graduates go on to earn 2% more than single language speakers. Although this does not sound like much, it could certainly amount to a lot over a lifetime.
Enjoy a deeper perception of the world! One of the best benefits of being bilingual is perhaps a deep understanding of yourself and your social environment. Even without traveling, your perception of the world around you can be transformed. Believe it or not, bilinguals can perceive greater variations of color than monolinguals.
Amazingly, it is pretty common for bilinguals to adopt different characteristics as they speak different languages. Many have even admitted to feeling different about themselves and acting differently according to the languages spoken by them.
To finish, being bilingual eases the way for developing and enhancing interpersonal characteristics at higher levels than monolingual individuals. From our point of view, being bilingual, apart from all of the benefits mentioned before, also implies being bicultural in a broad sense, that is, learning to accept that there is more than one single way to deal with a specific matter in everyday life.
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