Saturday, 26 September 2015

'Bilingual Mind: Understanding How the Brain Speaks Two Languages'

In this text, Jeffrey Kluger reveals that being bilingual not only has practical benefits such as being able to communicate with others fluently in two languages, it also has many intellectual benefits. “The ability to speak two or more languages has a profound effect on the brain, from improving your analytical skills, to enhancing your cognition, to protecting your brain from dementia later in life.” Kluger stated. Bilingual children are believed to exhibit social empathy much sooner than their monolingual peers. “Lynch observed that these students seemed to show a greater facility with skills that relied on interpreting symbolic representations, such as math or music”. Speaking multiple languages are shown to thicken frontal lobes, as well as increase of white matter with as a result a higher level of planning and decision-making. When an experiment on seniors was performed, those who were bilingual required less energy in the frontal fortex to be used when switching between ideas resulting them in being much faster than those who only spoke one language.

Similar to Julia Alvarez’s “Names/Nombres”, Kluger discusses how people who are bilingual often use different words to describe something and how this code-switching often occurs amongst bilinguals in order to allows them to decide how to express something best in different situation. This is called dog-chien dilemma. In contrast to Kluger, Alvarez justifies this dog-chien dilemma as a form of self-expression and identity as they associate the language they use to the origin they feel most comfortable to in that particular situation.

source: Kluger, Jeffrey, and Northeastern University. "Bilingual Mind: Understanding How the Brain Speaks Two Languages." Exploring Language. By Gary Goshgarian. Fourteenth ed. Vol. 487. Boston: Pearson, n.d. 125-27. Exploring Language.

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