Speaking More Than One Language Delays Dementia, Study Says

December 4, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

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

1. dementia [dih-MEN-shuh, -shee-uh] (n.) – a condition of not being able to clearly think, remember, or understand
Example: Her grandfather no longer remembers his wife’s name because of dementia.

2. bilingual [bahy-LING-gwuh l] (adj.) – can speak two languages
Example: Rose is bilingual because she can speak both Filipino and English.

3. stimulate [STIM-yuh-leyt] (v.) – to excite or activate
Example: I enjoy solving puzzles because it stimulates my brain. 

4. immigrant [im-i-gruh nt] (n.) – a person who moves into another country to live there permanently
ExampleImmigrants are bilingual because they can speak their mother tongue and the language of the country they moved into. 

5. illiterate [ih-LIT-er-it ] (adj.) – lacking the ability to read and write
Example: People who have not gone to school are usually illiterate.


Read the text below.

A study reveals that speaking more than one language delays dementia.

Together with his colleagues, a neurologist at the University of Edinburgh [ED-n-bur uh], Scotland named Thomas Bak conducted the study. They reviewed the medical records of 648 dementia patients from a clinic in the city of Hyderabad, India.

Co-author Suvarna Alladi, a neurologist in Hyderabad, said that many people in India usually speak multiple languages. They speak an official national language, a local dialect, and English.

More than half of the recorded patients were bilingual or multilingual. Researchers also found that these people started showing signs of dementia at an average age of 65.6, which is a bit later than the 61.1 average age in patients who spoke only one language. The experts have also observed these results in various types of dementia.

Bak said that mental activity protects people from dementia. Switching between languages also stimulates the brain.

Previous studies have also claimed that bilingualism delays dementia. Brian Gold, another neuroscientist, showed in his studies that bilingual seniors also excel at certain skills such as quickly sorting colors and shapes.

Gold also said that Bak’s study is more convincing than the previous ones. He said so because Bak’s study involved bilingual people raised in the same country and culture, while other studies mainly involved immigrants.

This latest study also has the largest scope. Its result is consistent both among literate and illiterate people, proving that formal education does not explain this discovery. However, further study is still needed to observe the effects of dementia on bilingual people compared to others.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that speaking another language may delay dementia? Why or why not?
·         What other activities do you think can help delay dementia? Please explain briefly.

Discussion B

·         What do you think is the importance of learning another language? Explain.
·         What are the disadvantages of speaking more than one language? Kindly explain.


December 4, 2013