May 27, 2012

Article: The Benefits of Being Bilingual


The Benefits of Being Bilingual
By Jonah Lehrer
May 15, 2012

In a recent paper published in Psychological Science, a team of psychologists led by Boaz Keysar at the University of Chicago found that forcing people to rely on a second language systematically reduced human biases, allowing the subjects to escape from the usual blind spots of cognition. In a sense, they were better able to think without style.

The paper is a tour de force of cross-cultural comparison, as the scientists conducted six experiments on three continents (n > 600) in five different languages: English, Korean, French, Spanish and Japanese. Although all subjects were proficient in their second language, they were not “balanced bilingual.”

This is only the latest study to capture the power of bilingualism. For instance, children raised in bilingual households show increased levels of self-control and appear better at learning abstract rules and ignoring irrelevant information. (These benefits seem to exist as early as 7 months of age.) Other studies have demonstrated that people who speak two languages are diagnosed with dementia, on average, about four years later than people who only speak one language.

Read the full article at

Inspired? Here is a blog post with tips to get your child started on the path to multilingualism:

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