The term Bilingual refers to an individual being able to speak and understand two languages, also alternatively used often to describe Multilingual. A concept dating back to ancient history, it has now been massively popularized by rapid globalization from the 20th century where people from different cultures started integrating with each other for various purposes such as trade, education, emigration, and tourism, therefore, making the bilingualism or multilingualism essential.
As much as bilingualism serves as a practical tool for profession, recreation, or socializing, it also provides numerous cognitive benefits which might assist us perform our brain functions with greater efficiency. Different languages pose different challenges while learning such as memorizing unique grammatical rules, regional contexts, and vocabulary. Such challenges help strengthen memory storage and retrieval, helping us to develop overall efficient learning for information.
Differentiating between multiple languages and switching between languages fluently engages the brain, helping us increase our problem-solving skills. Bilingual or multilingual people are more likely to possess a higher degree of creativity, greater potential to find alternate solutions to complex problems, Innovative and adaptive mindset, and Efficient decision-making skills.
There are several disorders that affect the cognitive abilities of individuals most commonly in Elderly Individuals such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Through bilingualism cognitive functions and strengthened which may result in a higher degree of protection against such cognitive decline due to the above disorders. Studies have shown that bilingual individuals are better equipped to withstand the effects of brain aging and maintain cognitive function for longer.
Language is deeply attached to the culture it originated from, and being bilingual, an individual is exposed to multiple cultures through languages known to him. It provides a unique perspective for him on different cultures. Bilingual individuals often exhibit greater empathy, as they are accustomed to navigating and understanding diverse cultural contexts.
Learning another language is not easy, but it is worth the effort.
A Famous psycholinguist Frank Smith once said “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”