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Why Bilingualism?

Did you know that Singapore’s Ministry of Education awards children and youth for being effectively bilingual?

Historically, bilinguals were regarded as having a relatively lower IQ than monolinguals. But, studies have shifted from discouraging Bilingualism to highlighting the benefits of Bilingualism.

So why is bilingualism beneficial?

Cognitive Advantages

Being bilingual does not interfere with thinking efficiently. On the other hand, bilinguals who have developed two languages well, share advantages in which they think a lot more effectively.

Advantages of Thinking Dimensions

People who are bilingual are more creative, able to think in various perspectives, communicate sensitively and have a greater awareness of the social space.

Early, better readers

Research has shown that bilinguals are very aware of their languages from an early age. They are able to separate form from the meaning which also allows them to be reading ready earlier than monolinguals.

Unique takes on the World

Language-specific cognitive studies have concluded that bilinguals have unique and interesting perspectives and take of the world and how it operates. This would be unlike monolinguals of either language.

Slows down Ageing

Neurological studies have highlighted that bilingualism may slow down the decline of the cognitive functions that we experience as we grow older. It also delays the development of mental illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimers.

Written By Kausalya Vijayan Kumaran, Content and Programmes Developer, ThinkTamil Academy

Summarised and adapted from “Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism”. 6th Edition. Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright.

For your further reading and understanding:

François Grosjean’s Website on Bilingualism

Ellen Bialystok’s Website on Lifespan Cognition and Development

Video on Bilingualism with Ellen Bialystok

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