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WHY BILINGUALISM STRENGTHENS YOUR MENTAL MUSCLE

September 14, 2013

People who are able to speak two languages usually can do so seamlessly, a trait that likely develops a higher level of mental flexibility, researchers say.

“In the past, bilinguals were looked down upon,” says Judith F. Kroll, distinguished professor of psychology, linguistics and women’s studies at Penn State.

“Not only is bilingualism not bad for you, it may be really good. When you’re switching languages all the time it strengthens your mental muscle and your executive function becomes enhanced.”

Fluent bilinguals seem to have both languages active at all times, whether both languages are consciously being used or not—and both languages are active whether either was used only seconds or several days earlier.

Bilinguals rarely say a word in the unintended language, which suggests that they have the ability to control the parallel activity of both languages and ultimately select the intended language without needing to consciously think about it.

For a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers conducted two separate but related experiments. In the first, 27 Spanish-English bilinguals read 512 sentences, written in either Spanish or English—alternating language every two sentences.

Excerpt from an article by Victoria Indivero-Penn State at Futurity. Continue THERE

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