A 2012 study from the Lund University in Sweden found that the physical
size of the brain of a bilingual is larger
in size than the brain of a monolingual.
The larger parts of the bilingual brain
are located in the cerebral cortex, a part
of the brain central to memory, attention, perception, awareness, thought,
and language, and the hippocampus,
which consolidates information from
the short-term to long-term memory.
Enhanced Brain Flexibility
Bilinguals are able to switch from one
language to another, which requires a
certain amount of mental flexibility.
A 2015 study published in the journal
Cerebral Cortex suggests people who
speak two languages have more gray
matter in the executive control region of
3 Executive functioning is a set
of mental abilities that includes problem-solving, shifting attention, and other desirable cognitive traits.
Superior Language Skills
According to research at Northwestern
University, those who can speak two
languages are more adept at learning a
new foreign language than their monolingual counterparts, even when the
new language is completely different
from the languages they already know.
Viorica Marian, a researcher from the
Northwestern School of Communication, stated that “We’re seeing that exposure to two languages early in life carries
far-reaching benefits . . . After learning
another language, individuals can transfer language learning strategies they’ve
acquired to subsequent language learning and become better language learners
Delayed Onset of Alzheimer’s and
Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in
Ontario, Canada, have found that people who speak more than one language
need to have twice as much brain damage as monolingual people before they
start exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have stated
that onset of Alzheimer’s disease is delayed by four years for speakers of more
than one language.
Two for One
Take advantage of your child’s natural ability to learn a second language. This time
offers a unique opportunity in matters of
language acquisition. The baby brain is
equally capable of learning two languages
as it is of learning one language. According to Naja Ferjan Ramírez, research scientist at the Institute for Learning & Brain
Sciences at the University of Washington,
“Our results underscore the notion that
not only are very young children capable
of learning multiple languages, but that
early childhood is the optimum time for
them to begin.”
The research cited here represents just
a few of the many studies showing the
positive effects that learning a foreign
language has on the brain. Learning a
foreign language can benefit your brain
no matter when you start learning. With
the population living longer, quality of
life and brain function are more impor-
tant than ever. Learning a new language
as an adult is a fantastic way to exercise
your brain—so consider learning along
with your child—and the whole family
will benefit together.
Kit Strauss obtained her law degree from
the University of Virginia and graduated
Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University.
She left law to care for her children, becoming involved in their education and wanting them to learn a foreign language early.
Frustrated with poor quality programs
and products teaching foreign language,
Ms. Strauss spent a decade creating fun
activities to help her children learn French
and Spanish. From these experiences and
her love of education, she developed Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids®, a new
way to learn foreign language that has already proven successful for many children
1. Kinzler, Katherine, “The Superior Social Skills of
Bilinguals” New York Times, Web. 2 May 2016.
2. “Language Learning Makes the Brain Grow,
Swedish Study Suggests” ScienceDaily, Web. 12
3. Olulade, O. A., et al. “Neuroanatomical Evidence
in Support of the Bilingual Advantage Theory”
Oxford Journals, Web. 12 Apr. 2016.
4. “Exposure to Two Languages Carries Far-reaching Benefits” ScienceDaily, Web. 2 May 2016.
5. “First Physical Evidence Bilingualism Delays
Onset of Alzheimer’s Symptoms” ScienceDaily,
Web. 12 Apr. 2016.
6. McElroy, Molly. “Bilingual Baby Brains Show
A study in Sweden found
Increased Activity in Executive Function Re-
gions.” University of Washington, Web. 2 May
that the physical size of
the brain of a bilingual
is larger in size than the
brain of a monolingual.