We all know speaking multiple languages has it´s benefits. It makes traveling easier, it makes watching movies easier, it makes meeting people from other parts of the world easier. Coincidentally those three things are also my favorite hobbies, shortly followed by ‘learning languages´. However, making life easier and more interesting isn´t the only benefit ‘bilingualism’ or ‘multilingualism’ has to offer.
This video by Ted-Ed explains us in less than 5 minutes basically everything you want to know about being bilingual.
One of the things I love is that they mention the different parts in which speaking a language consists. There is the two active parts; writing and speaking, and two passive parts; reading and listening. “A balanced bilingual has near equal abilities across the board in two languages, most bilinguals in the world know and use their languages in varying proportions”.
This is probably one of the main misconceptions about multilingual individuals (and it really bothers me). Being able to read a language doesn´t mean you can speak it, and being able to speak a language doesn´t mean you can write it (this goes mostly for native speakers..). Making this distinction and recognizing your strong points and your weak points is very important when it comes to progressing in learning a new language.
The second interesting things they mention is the three different types of bilinguals; the compound bilinguals, the coordinate bilinguals and the subordinate bilinguals. While we all knew the younger you are, the easier it is to learn a language, the video explains in more detail the reason behind this.
The video explains the brains becomes less flexible to new structures as we grow older, causing us to learn another language while still thinking in our mother tongue instead of thinking in the concept of the word. Even though this does have to do with the way our brain works, one thing we can take from this is to try to approach learning a new language in a different way.
If you´d like to become fluent in a language instead of just being able to communicate, it might be a good idea to start thinking more in concepts, trying to forget the structures you have used thus far.
Even though this is obviously very hard and you will probably not achieve the same results as a young child, this way of learning a languages causes you to eventually think in another language instead of translating the words from your native language, as the subordinate bilinguals do, which eventually makes the chances of mixing up words or grammatical structures smaller.
Another interesting fact they mentioned was that people tend to suffer less from emotional bias and were able to solve problems more rationally when confronting them in a second language (which means from now on I shall be resolving my problems in Spanish).
The video also mentions that bilingualism was considered a flaw before the 1960 because scientists thought it would slow down a child´s development by forcing them to spend too much time distinguishing between languages. Although I do feel that the more languages I speak, the more I am starting to mix them up, it is definitely not a ´flaw´,
All in all, this video has a lot of interesting things to tell us about the way bilingualism influences the brain, so if you weren´t convinced already; get that brain busy and learn another language!