Being Bilingual May Boost Your Brain Power
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Lazaruk, W. (2007) Linguistic, Academic, and Cognitive Benefits of French Immersion. The Canadian Modern Language Review/La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes, 63(5), 605–628.
A survey of research on French as a second language (FSL) education in Canada suggests that French immersion (FI) students enjoy significant linguistic, academic, and cognitive benefits. We organize our summary of the advantages of FI around these three themes, comparing students’ proficiency in French and English across various FI programs, and assessing their overall academic achievement. Our review shows that FI programs enable students to develop high levels of proficiency in both French and English, at no cost to their academic success. Cognitive research associates bilingualism with heightened mental flexibility and creative thinking skills, enhanced metalinguistic awareness, and greater communicative sensitivity. Because cognitive benefits are contingent on a bilingual learner’s proficiency in both languages, it may be that FI programs, which promote heightened proficiency in both French and English, foster in their students an underlying cognitive advantage.
*Stewart, J. H. (2005).* Foreign language study in elementary schools:
Benefits and implications for achievement in reading and math.
Early Childhood Education
Journal, 33(1), 11-16. from PsycINFO database.
Educators and policy makers in many countries have been expressing concern about how to improve students' achievement in reading and math. This article explores and proposes a solution: introduce or increase foreign language study in the elementary schools. Research has shown that foreign language study in the early elementary years improves cognitive abilities, positively influences achievement in other disciplines, and results in higher achievement test scores in reading and math. Successful foreign language programs for elementary schools include immersion
, FLES, and FLEX programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)
*Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., Klein, R., & Viswanathan, M. (2004).
*Bilingualism, aging, and cognitive control: Evidence from the simon task.
Psychology and Aging, 19(2), 290-303. from PsycINFO database.
Previous work has shown that bilingualism is associated with more effective controlled processing in children; the assumption is that the constant management of 2 competing languages enhances executive functions (E. Bialystok, 2001). The present research attempted to determine whether this bilingual advantage persists for adults and
whether bilingualism attenuates the negative effects of aging on cognitive control in older adults. Three studies are reported that compared the performance of monolingual and bilingual middle-aged and older adults on the Simon task. Bilingualism was associated with smaller Simon effect costs for both age groups; bilingual participants also responded more rapidly to conditions that placed greater demands on working memory. In all cases the bilingual advantage was greater for older participants. It appears, therefore, that controlled processing is carried out more effectively by bilinguals and that bilingualism helps
to offset age-related losses in certain executive processes.
*Kormi-Nouri, R., Moniri, S., & Nilsson, L. (2003).* Episodic and semantic memory in bilingual and monolingual children.
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 44(1), 47-54. from PsycINFO database.
Although bilinguality has been reported to confer advantages upon children with respect to various cognitive abilities, much less is known about the relation between memory and bilinguality. In this study, 60 (30 girls and 30 boys) bilingual and 60 (30 girls and 30 boys)
monolingual children in three age groups (ages 7.9-9.4, 9.7-11.4 and 11.7-13.3 yrs) were compared on episodic memory and semantic memory tasks. Episodic memory was assessed using subject-performed tasks (with real or imaginary objects) and verbal tasks, with retrieval by both free recall and cued recall. Semantic memory was assessed by word fluency
tests. Positive effects of bilingualism were found on both episodic memory and semantic memory at all age levels. These findings suggest that bilingual children integrate and/or organize the information of two languages and so bilingualism creates advantages in terms of cognitive abilities (including memory).
*Bialystok, E. (. (2005). Consequences of bilingualism for cognitive development.
* New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.
(From the chapter) Research addressing the possible cognitive consequences of bilingualism for children's development has found mixed results when seeking effects in domains such as language ability and intelligence. The approach in the research reported in this chapter is to investigate the effect that bilingualism might have on specific
cognitive processes rather than domains of skill development. Three cognitive domains are examined: concepts of quantity, task switching and concept formation, and theory of mind. The common finding in these disparate domains is that bilingual children are more advanced than monolinguals in solving problems requiring the inhibition of misleading information. The conclusion is that bilingualism accelerates the development of a general cognitive function concerned with attention and inhibition, and that facilitating effects of bilingualism are found on tasks and processes in which this function is most required. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)