I knew it, now the NYTimes says it: “Bilinguals are smarter”

Pues el New York Times hoy dice que los bilingual people are smarter and more adept at understanding the world.

SPEAKING two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.

They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.

I kind of want to frame this article and show it to all the naysayers (y la gente gacha) que se burlaba de mi bilingual way of expressing myself. Back when I was growing up, they didn’t call it “Bilingual/Bicultural” or anything fancy. They called you a “pocha” que no se sabe expresar bien en dos idiomas. The word Spanglish didn’t even occur to us then.

“Que pocha eres” was a constant thing I heard when I was growing up, and I have to say, people didn’t say it in a nice way.

But karma is good para todos los bilingües, and here we are in 2012 embracing all the cultural know how and brain empowerment that speaking 2 languages provides.

Thank you New York Times!

Here’s the link to the article. Happy Sunday reading!


4 thoughts on “I knew it, now the NYTimes says it: “Bilinguals are smarter”

  1. Sister, NYT…you have made my day…I’m gonna take it a bit further YOU’VE MADE MY MILLENIUM (jajajaaa quoting beetlejuice, I think)… You también quiero enmarcar este artículo…la imagen esta genial aunque un poco primitiva o básica para el ejercicio/lucha interna que verdaderamente hace nuestro cerebro bilingue…are we glad we didn’t desist in our effrot cada que nos CRITICABAN de “pochas” …bueno let me not forget that this will probably postpone mi dementia….now THAT is PRICELESS!! thank you, thank you…oye, ni se diga los internal dialogues que nos podemos aventar…jajajajaaaaa xo

    • If this were true, migrant students would be always the best, and they aren’t. My own case, for example. It is easier for us to learn more languages, but Bilingual are just plain people with less vocabulary.in more languages. My classroom is full of bilingual speakers, they have all a migrant background, education is in the official country language and the less gifted have real trouble to process information quickly, and many dislexic are undiagnosed because early dislexia indicators are hidden during language adquisition by bilingual speakers.

  2. ……It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.!!!!!!!

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