Bilingualism and the Brain – How Language Shapes our Ability to Process Information

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[Source:  Science Daily]

In an increasingly globalized world, there are many practical benefits to speaking two languages rather than one. Even in the US, which is largely monolingual, more than 20 percent of the population is now thought to speak a second language.

Early research on bilingualissciencedailym, conducted before the 1960s, however, linked bilingualism with lower IQ scores, cognitive deficiencies and even mental retardation. These studies reported that monolingual children were up to three years ahead of bilingual children in both verbal and non-verbal intelligence. From these studies, there grew a perception among the general public that bilingualism led to a ‘language handicap’.

“Speaking with my own students about their childhood experiences, I found that many of them were discouraged from speaking two languages while growing up. This was based on a misperception that doing so would delay development,” says Assistant Professor Yang Hwajin, a cognitive and developmental psychologist from the Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Social Sciences.

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