Remember when schools used to mandate learning a second language? Sometimes they would go as far as bringing in the native speaking teachers to help with the process? Well, now we are starting to understand why learning a second language is so vital. Not only does it help increase the grey matter in our brain, but is allowing bilingual persons to process more, but that does not mean they were any faster. Does that mean that out kids could be the next super thinkers, only time will tell.
While ignoring background noise is something to be envied, especially by those in an office setting, bilingual people have a special advantage over their monolingual counterparts, explain researchers from York University in Toronto. When the brain is listening for specific sounds, it will search through conversations and hone in on that tone, hence why you can hear your name in a crowded room. However, in a brain that knows more than one language, it can listen with a pair of ear muffs on. When learning a language, we are taught to look at the overall picture, to find the meaning of the conversation in order to respond. We otherwise ignore all the non-important aspects of the conversation to translate the meat of it mentally. That process is brought into our everyday lives, by only listening for the important parts, your name, which could signal someone needing your full attention.
Increased Cognitive Ability
Studies have consistently shown that children and adults alike have an increased cognitive ability after learning a second language. This is because the brain must work to translate and difference between the learned language and the mother tongue, and back when having a conversation. This extremely complex process can be improved so much that one would not be able to tell the person was not a native speaker. Our brains are amazing at adapting to a situation and can learn in ways we have yet to understand.
Work Our Your Brain
These studies concluded that the people who knew more than one language did not perform word association tasks any faster than those who only knew one language. Instead, the scientists found that the brain was sorting through both languages in order to find a word that related to the picture they were shown. Normally, we learn or store memories based on pictorial representations. So, when the brain scan of the bilingual person lit up more than the monolingual, it can be explained through simple logic. The brain had to sort through numerous stages and layers of memories in order to find a single word, all of that is done within a split second!