Bilingual Brain Perhaps you are speaking two languages or more. Whether you are speaking one or more languages, learning about the bilingual brain is really fascinating. Knowing what bilingual brain has to offer is really something worth understanding.

Bilingual or Multilingual - what’s good about it

Learning more than one language gives a lot of advantages for us. It opens up new opportunities in the career in numerous countries around the world. Being able to speak more than one language gives us fair chance to compete with others in the work force. It does not only limit to the career opportunities. Being able to speak multiple languages means it will allow us to communicate with other people from a very different background and culture without language barriers.

The brain actually works wonders

Our brain works miraculously. Because the way the brain works, it sometimes puzzles us. Our brain can be adapted to learn multiple languages. We are able to switch between the two languages simultaneously. Although at some point we may experience the struggle shifting between the two. Interestingly, people who are bilingual are shown to less likely develop dementia.1 Psycholinguist Ellen Bialystok discovered that “The bilinguals showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s some four to five years after monolinguals with the same disease pathology,” she said.1 In a recent study also shows that bilinguals are likely to recover faster than monolinguals from brain injury 1.

What happens if a person experiences some incidents that affect the function in some part of the brain?

Interestingly our brain can preserve particular language after experiencing some kind of events that lead to brain damage of some sort. We are somehow able to use the language, but it depends on which language the brain will pick between the first language and the second language. Pitres claimed that the language that a patient uses at the time of stroke would be the most resistant to damage than the earlier learned language.2 He found that “[the] patient was actually better able to speak the languages that he was speaking at the time of insult, than the one that he learned, as a child.”2 Of course, it leaves a lot of questions to be answered.

The first language versus the second language - which one is more resistant to damage

It is still debatable to determine which language will be resistant to damage after the insult. Theodore Ribot, the father of neuro psychology in France, gave an example of a forester who spoke German for his whole adult life was suddenly speaking polish under anesthesia though he had never used polish for more than 30 years.3 Another example was a patient who had a stroke in his fifties could alternate between the first and second languages in a certain number of days.3 It is interesting to know how the brain pick which language will emerge. In some situations, it was the the mother tongue that is more resistant to damage, but the other cases, the second language is more resistant to damage.

Tips for bilinguals

There are certain things that bilinguals often face in their daily bilingual lives. Bilinguals often need to practice the other language which they no longer use in their daily lives to keep maintaining the proficiency. It is a good practice to speak the two languages from time to time so that we will feel comfortable switching between the two when we have to.

Do you speak more than one language? If you do, how do you manage not to mix between the two languages when you speak? Share your opinion about the bilingual brain by leaving your comment below!

Source:
[1] Vince, G. (2016, August 7). “Why being bilingual works wonders for your brain”. The Guardian.com. Retrieved on July 23, 2017 from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/aug/07/being-bilingual-good-for-brain-mental-health
[2] Hernandez, A. “The Bilingual Brain.” [week 1: Familiarity and Its Neural Instantiation]. MOOC offered by the University of Houston System. Retrieved on July 23, 2017 from https://www.coursera.org/learn/bilingual
[3] Hernandez, A. “The Bilingual Brain.” [week 1: Age of Acquisition]. MOOC offered by the University of Houston System. Retrieved on July 23, 2017 from https://www.coursera.org/learn/bilingual

Tags: