Bilingualism Improves Mental Health, Study Says

February 4, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. bilingual 
bahy-LING-gwuhl or, Canadian, -LING-gyoo-uhl(adj.) – speaking two languages
Example: Most Filipinos are bilingual since they speak English and other Philippine languages.

2. cognitive [KOG-ni-tiv(adj.) – mental; involving the use of brain
Example: Reading and solving math problems improve people’s cognitive skills.

3. neuroscientist [noor-oh- SAHY-uhn-tist, nyoor-(n.) – an expert on the nervous system (the brain and the nerves)
ExampleNeuroscientists conduct studies on brain activities.

4. contemporary [kuhn-TEM-puh-rer-ee(n.) – a person who belongs to the same age group as another person
Example: Luke and his contemporaries are in the same school and in the same year level.

5. outdo [out-DOO(v.) – to do or perform better than the other
Example: The older contestant outdid the younger participants in the competition.

Read the text below.

A study from the Neuroscience journal shows that bilingual seniors have better cognitive skills than seniors who only know one language.

The study involved three types of subjects: seniors who could speak two languages, seniors who could speak only one language, and adults who were younger than the two other groups. The scientists asked the subjects to complete a series of cognitive tests that involved sorting out shapes and colors. The subjects’ brain activities were then evaluated through a brain imaging method.

Neuroscientist Brian Gold, the study’s main author, says that the bilingual seniors had similar brain patterns with the younger group. In addition, bilingual seniors did better in the test than their contemporaries who could only speak one language.

Since bilingual seniors exerted less effort, their brain processes were more efficient. Gold believes that bilingual seniors have enhanced cognitive processes because of lifelong bilingualism.

These results are consistent with the results of a previous research about bilingual patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In this research, bilingual patients who had severely affected brains could still perform on the same level as patients with milder brain damage.

Gold said that the results of both studies strongly prove that bilingual seniors could still do better despite being old.

Gold aims to find out more about how learning a second language or living in another country can also improve mental abilities.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that bilinguals have better mental health than monolinguals? Why or why not?
·         What other benefits do bilinguals have?

Discussion B

·         If given the chance, what other languages would you like to learn? Please explain your reasons.
·         In your opinion, why do people want to study other or foreign languages?


February 4, 2013