The Value of Learning a Second Language
Bilingual children show better ability to follow abstract rules, to reverse rules that they’ve learned already.
Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., is a freelance science writer. From May 2003 to April 2008, she was the editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience, the leading scientific journal in the field of brain research. Before becoming an editor, she did her graduate work at the University of Rochester and was a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at Yale University. She lives in northern California with her husband, a professor of neuroscience.
Learning a second language has fantastic benefits for kids. If you put aside the most obvious reason for learning a second language that allows you to communicate with a lot of people that you couldn’t communicate with before, it also really helps brain development.
Starting as early as one year of age, bilingual children show better ability to follow abstract rules, to reverse rules that they’ve learned already: "You were doing this, now do the opposite," which is something that’s pretty hard for little kids. And they continue to show better self-control and better ability to be flexible according to circumstances all the way through into old age, assuming that they keep speaking both languages actively. You can lose these advantages if you start speaking a language and then you let it drop.
Especially in old age, people who have actively spoken more than one language their entire life have an onset of dementia, if they get dementia, about four years later than people who only know one language. So that alone is a significant advantage.
60 Second Reads is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.