When you assume that speaking two languages makes your child smarter, you are making a false assumption. Bilinguals can be or are equal to monolinguals; however, a second language has its advantages.
The Costs of Learning and Speaking two Languages
When you are a bilingual person, your brain activates when you speak both of the languages you know. However, this comes at a cost because the brain is doing two things simultaneously. According to some researchers, a bilingual person’s verbal skills in the languages they know are weaker compared to their monolingual counterparts.
Bilinguals tend to use fewer words when speaking; their vocabulary in each language is smaller. A study has also revealed that a bilingual person also experiences many tip-of-the-tongue situations, wherein they fail to use the exact words to describe a particular thing. These cognitive disadvantages affect both a speaker’s syntactic and lexical level.
An expert from Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai cites that being bilingual outweigh its costs; bilinguals open new doors for jobs, connect with others from another country better and improves certain brain functions just to name a few.
The Advantages of Bilinguals
The brain of a bilingual has the experience to handle two languages simultaneously. This allows a person to develop skills like working memory, changing attention and discarding irrelevant stimuli. These comprise the brain’s executive control system which overlooks multi-tasking, sustained attention and high-level thought. Bilinguals are adept at switching between tasks, even if these do not involve using another language.
Bilingualism has far-reaching effects on the brain’s cortical and subcortical structural and functional properties. When a person speaks multiple languages, their brains adapt and change because of this experience. Seniors that are bilingual maintain their cognitive function and may postpone the negative effects of dementia.
Being bilingual does not necessarily make one smarter, but it stimulates and allows the brain to develop skills, and may even change its structure for the better.