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The Benefits of Being Bilingual

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 11:10am

From cross-cultural and social adaptability to increased intelligence, cognition and empathy, there are a number of ways to approach the myriad benefits of knowing multiple languages. Included among these, brain fitness:

Multilingualism has been shown to have many social, psychological and lifestyle advantages. Moreover, researchers are finding a swathe of health benefits from speaking more than one language, including faster stroke recovery and delayed onset of dementia.

Could it be that the human brain evolved to be multilingual – that those who speak only one language are not exploiting their full potential? And in a world that is losing languages faster than ever – at the current rate of one a fortnight, half our languages will be extinct by the end of the century – what will happen if the current rich diversity of languages disappears and most of us end up speaking only one?

You can learn a second langauge for yourself, for others, for your career and for your health - and even all four at once, it's all-inclusive! The article presents a terrific digression on the subject, and we seldom discuss the limitations of being monolingual. But it can be a real handicap for people who want to operate in the wider world. That's one reason our language offerings at the university are such a treasure - or the keys to greater treasures - and such a missed opportunity if students don't take advantage of them. There are no professional fields in which knowing a second language won't make you a better _____. They don't exist. Plus, our professions are not the only way we identify ourselves: we are humans, who care about and need to understand other humans, for all our mutual benefit yes, but also just to [intrepidly, effectively, sensitively, safely] make our way. Your life can be a wonderful concert, and you should be ready to enjoy the music. And to really have a great time at the show, always get the all-access pass.

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