Life + Arts

Bilingualism becomes a model for success

Although learning a foreign language may be considered to be a hassle, studies have shown that it is indeed beneficial.

Learning a foreign language can increase brain growth, bring new cultural experiences and can also give a competitive edge to those applying for a job. According to a study conducted by Thomas Bak of the University of Edinburgh, learning another language may slow down brain aging.

In the study, a group of 262 individuals were first given an intelligence test at the age of 11 and another similar test when they were in their 70’s. The study found that the individuals who spoke two or more languages had developed better cognitive abilities than they had at age 11.

Carlos Romero, a doctoral student and Spanish language instructor, said learning a foreign language opens a person’s eyes to better understand the world and other cultures.

“There are so many languages and cultures out there in the planet and learning about them can help us know the way different people view the world,” Romero said. “When I refer to the world, I am talking about the differences in the way all human beings view time, space, money, love, hatred, religion, life, death, happiness, enjoyment, music, myths, work, nature, family, friendship, professional and private life, material things and values.”

 Computer science sophomore Mary Asfour is studying Arabic so she can better understand the culture and be able to converse with her family.

“It has helped me in my family and for me in general because my whole family speaks it and watches the news in Arabic,” said Asfour. “I can now join in the conversation and answer back.”

Learning grammar and vocabulary of another language can bring bring awareness to the grammar and vocabulary involved in the English language.

“It also can help people understand their first language better while learning another one, especially the grammar,” said instructional assistant professor of Chinese Jing Zhang.

Francesca D’Alessandro Behr, associate professor of classics and Italian studies, said she believes that classical and modern languages are not only tools to help improve English at any level, but she also believes that they help can give individuals a better knowledge of root words that are used throughout a variety of different languages.

“Languages help to give etymological knowledge of your own language,” said Behr. “For example, I remember that the word ‘phos’ in Greek means light, so I can immediately know photosynthesis is a process connected to light.”

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1 Comment

  • Great article. It’s about time everyone in the US became bilingual anyway. Apps like Babbel are making it even easier for people to start learning. And apparently, one doesn’t need fluency to enjoy some of the brain rewards either. It’s a win, win.

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