As of 2018, there are 195 countries in the world containing thousands of different languages! Some nations have one official language, while others have two or more. In a globalized world, it becomes natural and encouraged that some people speak two or more languages; we know them as bilingual or multilingual individuals, and for the few who may not know, they face a cornucopia of benefits.
I was motivated to discuss this topic after watching a video by YouTube’s fabulous Joanna Hausmann (who is not herself a scientist but she appears in a Bill Nye show and that is sufficient). In short, there are many types of bilinguals; they are divided depending on age and form of acquisition of the second language as well as proficiency. For any of these types, being bilingual causes their brains to create more connections (as it occurs when you learn new things, languages being so expansive and complex exploit this resource) [d]. With higher densities of gray matter and exercising of specific areas of the brain, bilinguals definitely have some advantages over monolinguals [a].
The bilingual brain can benefit the individual in many ways. More connections mean a healthier brain, which in turn weakens the symptoms of many diseases such as dementia. Bilinguals also strengthen areas of the brain that smooth the transition of changing tasks [d]. My personal favorite is being able to access a broader array of information; knowing more does not make you smarter, but it does make you look smarter, and lets be honest, understanding every part of every version of “Despacito” is a power too great to be bestowed upon any human (and that as you may infer, makes it all worth it). While developing brains of young children make learning new languages easier, age should not stop one from learning. For those of you who want to venture or already belong to the bilingual or multilingual community, there is no reason to not learn even more new languages. Keep making more connections and keep learning about different cultures and different people.
Keep learning and stay awesome.
Of course, do not overwork yourself, do it despacito.
( As customary I will leave some interesting resources and articles down in the reference section)
[B] A. Costa and N. Sebastián-Gallés. “How does the bilingual experience sculpt the brain?” NCBI. May 2014.
[C] Kamenetz, Anya. “6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education.” NPR. November 29, 2016.