Published on 09/11/10 at 21:26:51 GMT by Redaksjonen
(morsmal.org) Earlier today, we received a press release from the Association for Psychological Science suggesting that bilingualism offers benefits beyond communication. The press release is referring to a new research by Ellen Bialystok (York University), Fergus I.M. Craik (Rotman Research Institute), David W. Green (University College London), and Tamar H. Gollan (University of California, San Diego).
You can download and read (free of charge) the original draft research article leading to this interesting new study only on morsmal.org.
Speaking two languages can be handy when traveling abroad, applying for jobs, and working with international colleagues, but how does bilingualism influence the way we think?
Children learning two languages from birth achieve the same basic milestones as monolinguals do, but they may use different strategies for language acquisition. Although bilinguals tend to have smaller vocabularies in each language than do children who know one language, bilinguals may have an advantage when it comes to certain nonverbal cognitive tasks. Bilinguals tend to perform better than monolinguals on exercises that require blocking out distractions and switching between two or more different tasks.
The authors note that "when a bilingual speaks two languages regularly, speaking in just one of these languages requires use of the control network to limit interference from the other language and to ensure the continued dominance of the intended language." The bilingual advantage in attention and cognitive control may have important, long-term benefits. Preliminary evidence even suggests that their increased use of these systems may protect bilinguals against Alzheimers.
The differences between monolinguals and bilinguals have important clinical implications. For example, vocabulary tests are commonly used in psychologists offices and bilinguals scores may not accurately reflect their language ability. According to the authors, "Bilinguals who score below average are often wrongly diagnosed with false positive and negative outcomes. med Clinicians need to be aware of the potential to misinterpret bilinguals test scores. Developing tests that specifically target bilingual populations may result in better outcomes for these patients.
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