It is indisputable: speaking one, or rather, foreign languages is a real advantage that allows you to travel without confusion in a foreign country, to communicate with people who would not understand otherwise, to immerse yourself deeply in a culture that is not ours and, more trivially, to know what you order at the restaurant! Numerous studies also show that the practice of a foreign language is beneficial for health, and especially for the brain. The advantage of bilinguals?
Better cognitive flexibility
Adults who speak two foreign languages from childhood seem to have more ease in coping with the unexpected than others, according to a Journal of Neuroscience study that measured participants’ ability by performing a task that involved their cognitive flexibility, task that bilinguals have fulfilled faster and using less energy.
A more lively spirit with age
The same goes for people who have learned a foreign language in adulthood, according to the scientific journal Annals of Neurology. Some English-speaking people underwent an intelligence test at the age of eleven, then repeated around the age of seventy. Those who spoke two or more languages had more cognitive skills – especially in terms of general intelligence and ease of reading – than the others.
A different look at words
Bilinguals would record certain words faster, especially when they have the same senses in both languages, according to a study from the journal Psychological Science. By studying eye movements, researchers realized that bilinguals spent less time looking at identical words in both languages (such as “sport” in English and French), which assumes that their brain needs less time to identify them. , writes Scientific American magazine .
Less chance of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s can affect everyone, but bilinguals would develop this problem four or five years later than others, if you believe the results presented at the American Association for Scientific Progress conference held in 2011. The study covers 450 patients, half of whom were bilingual from their youngest age.
Better analytical skills at school
Bilingual children seem more gifted for analytical and creative tasks, according to a study by the International Journal of Bilingualism . This observed 121 children, half of whom were bilingual, who had to repeat series of numbers, make mental calculations and still reproduce color block constructions, according to HealthDay .
A brain faster to change
Bilingual children would also have more ease in changing tasks, according to a behavioral study: children alternately look at photos of animals and colors on a computer screen. When asked to press on the keyboard to switch between them, the bilinguals were faster.
Think in another language to make a better decision
When people reflect in another language, they generally make more rational decisions, as a psychological study showed in 2012. Since we have a tendency to want to avoid what can compromise us, we limit risk taking, even when circumstances play our favor. But some researchers from the University of Chicago realized that reflecting in another language created a distance that led to decisions that were more mature and less dependent on our emotions. “The main reason for this phenomenon is perhaps that a foreign language has less affective importance than a mother tongue,” said researcher SayuriHayakawa. “An emotional reaction can involve decisions based more on fear than on hope, even when the probability of success is very high.