Here's How Being Bilingual Changes Your Brain

Here's How Being Bilingual Changes Your Brain

Congrats, bilingual friends. Researchers have discovered yet another benefit of your impressive language skills.

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We already knew that bilingualism can delay Alzheimer’s disease by four years and that it can even help one earn more money on their career paths. Now, new research shows that knowing two languages changes your brain entirely.

Judith F. Kroll, a psychologist who studies bilingualism at Pennsylvania State University, spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., where she explained how the bilingual mind works. Kroll said that bilingual speakers are easily able to “switch from one language to the other," often without error. She also noted that the interchangeability of the two languages changes the speaker’s native language, too.

“The native language may take a hit during second language learning, but that may be a crucial process in learning to regulate language,” Kroll said.

Though this “hit” occurs, it’s also a good thing for the brain. Wired refers to the process of deciphering between a word in one language over another as “weightlifting for the brain." In other words, the brain must work to overcome a cognitive challenge, much in the same way that your body must overcome a physical challenge.

PLUS: 10 Bilingual Books for Children

So, flex those muscles, bilinguals. You’ve got a lot to show off.