At first it might seem that the brain has to work harder to learn and speak two languages. And in a way it does. But it’s actually this hard work that exercises and strengthens the brain so that performing other cognitive tasks becomes easier and more efficient. Think of it this way. When you go to the gym, it’s hard work. But along the way, your muscles get stronger and soon even everyday tasks, including lifting and moving, actually get easier.
The other very interesting thing that happens for bilingual speakers is that because the brain has to control and filter both languages, it becomes very good at two things: inhibitory control and focus.
Lead research author and Northwestern University professor Viorica Marian puts it this way: “Using another language provides the brain built-in exercise. You don’t have to go out of your way to do a puzzle because the brain is already constantly juggling two languages.”
This kind of constant brain exercise not only has benefits for now, but it also appears to offer some “protective advantage against Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Marian.
We all know that exercise is good for us. Now we are beginning to get a glimpse of just how beneficial exercising the brain can be too. And the younger we teach children to exercise their brains, whether through music and movement or through learning a second language, the better!
Learn more about using music to teach young children a second language at www.Kindermusik.com/schools.