Advertisement

What Every Policymaker Needs to Know About the Cognitive Benefits of Bilingualism

  • Dina Mehmedbegovic
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter presents evidence that the regular use of two languages (bilingualism) results in a considerable cognitive advantage which is evidenced in a range of studies covering all life stages: from early years, compulsory education and adulthood to, more recently, even advanced age. The chapter draws on the latest research evidence in order to advocate that all stakeholders in education and wider society would benefit from a shift in attitudes and approach to bilingualism and learning other languages. The benefits at the individual and societal level are so significant that acting on this evidence is not only an educational, but also a health and economic imperative. In the conclusion a set of recommendations is provided for the development and implementation of a new approach relevant to all children and adults: a Healthy Linguistic Diet.

References

  1. All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages. (2014). Manifesto for Languages. https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/manifesto_for_languages.pdf.
  2. Bak, T. H., Vega-Mendoza, M., & Sorace, A. (2014). Never Too Late?: An Advantage on Tests of Auditory Attention Extends to Late Bilinguals. Frontiers in Psychology. http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00485/full. Accessed 26 May.
  3. Ben-Zeev, S. (1977). The Influence of Bilingualism on Cognitive Strategy and Cognitive Development. Child Development, 48(3), 1009–1018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bialystok, E. (1999). Cognitive Complexity and Attentional Control in the Bilingual Mind. Child Development, 70, 636–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bialystok, E. (2006). The Impact of Bilingualism on Language and Literacy Development. In T. K. Bhatia & W. C. Ritchie (Eds.), The Handbook of Bilingualism. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  6. Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., & Luk, G. (2012). Bilingualism: Consequences for Mind and Brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 240–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. British Council. (2014). Languages for the Future. Which Languages the UK Needs Most and Why. https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/languages-for-the-future-report-v3.pdf.
  8. Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Crystal, D. (2002). Language Death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cummins, J. (2001). Language, Power and Pedagogy. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  11. Eversley, J., Mehmedbegovic, D., Sanderson, A., Tinsley, T., Von Ahn, M., & Wiggins, R. D. (Eds.). (2010). Language Capital: Mapping the Languages of London’s School Children. London: CILT.Google Scholar
  12. Freedman, M., Alladi, S., Chertkow, H., Bialystok, E., Craik, F. I. M., Phillips, N. A., Duggirala, V., Raju, S. B., & Bak, T. H. (2014). Delaying Onset of Dementia: Are Two Languages Enough? Behavioural Neurology, 2014, Article ID 808137, 8 pages.Google Scholar
  13. Kovelman, I., Baker, S. A., & Petitto, L.-A. (2008). Bilingual and Monolingual Brains Compared Using fMRI: Is There a Neurological Signature of Bilingualism? Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lambert, W. E., & Tucker, G.R. (1972). Bilingual Education of Children: The St. Lambert Experiment. Rowley: Newbury House.Google Scholar
  15. Mehmedbegovic, D. (2011). A Study in Attitudes to Minority Languages in England and Wales. Saarbrucken: Lambert Academic Publishing.Google Scholar
  16. Mortimer, J., Alladi, A. S., Bak, T. H., Russ, T. S., Shailaja, M., & Duggirala, V. (2014). Bilingualism Delays Age at Onset of Dementia, Independent of Education and Immigration Status. Neurology, 81(22), 1936–1944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Tinsley, T. (2013). Languages: The State of the Nation. London: British Academy. http://www.britac.ac.uk/publications/languages-state-nation.Google Scholar
  18. Tosi, A., & Leung, C. (Eds.). (1999). Rethinking Language Education: From a Monolingual to a Multilingual Perspective. London: CILT.Google Scholar
  19. Vygotsky, L. (1962). Thought and Language. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dina Mehmedbegovic
    • 1
  1. 1.University College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations