As the world we live in continues to diversify and becomes increasingly connected, individuals who are bilingual or who speak multiple languages seem to have an obvious advantage. But while the ability to communicate with people from different cultures is a huge asset, bilingual children and adults experience some significant health benefits as well.
“From the perspective of brain development, [growing up bilingual] is very beneficial,” Azadeh Aalai, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Montgomery College in Maryland, and author of “Understanding Aggression: Psychological Origins & Approaches to Aggressive Behavior”, told Saludify. “Our brain has structural plasticity, meaning it changes and adapts based on what we are exposed to in the environment, so learning multiple languages actually serves as an enriching experience that optimizes the capacity of the brain.”
Research on bilingual children
The American Psychiatric Association indicates bilingual children have an enhanced ability to process sounds and therefore are more likely to pay attention in a learning situation.
The benefits, outlined in a study from Northwestern University, supported previous findings that demonstrated bilingual children showed reduced levels of anxiety, loneliness and poor self-esteem, as well as a reduction of negative externalizing behaviors such as arguing, fighting or acting impulsively. According to the experts, part of the reason for lower levels of social stress among bilingual children had to do with the ability to understand and accept the multiple cultures which came along with learning multiple languages.
This ability to have a multicultural understanding—not just an understanding of multiple languages—is what sets bilingual children apart from someone who has learned a second language just to learn it.
Also on HuffPost:
"30 Rock's" Liz Lemon (or 'Limona') is getting her <a href="http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00046213.html" target="_hplink">"dream vacation"</a> by picking garbage for her community service during the summer and in the meanwhile learning how to speak some Spanish. Kudos to Tina Fey for learning how to roll her R's: "grrritale a Hector!"
Rachel learned Spanish from her nanny who taught her how to say "Tu madre es loca" ("Your mom is crazy"). And although Rachel sounds very cute in Spanish, she still needs to work a bit on her grammar.
We knew she was good with potions, spells and concoctions but we weren't aware little Hermione also knew how to speak Spanish. Although she's probably better with magic than she is with speaking the language, Emma Watson is still terribly charming in Spanish.
Dakota Fanning tells the host of the ABC show "buenos dias, mucho gusto en conocerla" ("good morning, nice to meet you") with a charming smile proving that she is equally as adorable in English and as she is in Spanish.
"Hijoleee Mano!" Apparently, when Hollywood heartthrob Ben Affleck speaks Spanish he puts on a Mexican accent. In this video Affleck is promoting his movie "The Town" and telling us about his man-crush on John Hamm (or Juan Hamm). Even though rumor has it that he learned it from his ex girflriend Jennifer Lopez, the actor learned Spanish when he lived in Mexico as a kid.
Even though Selena Gomez's father is Mexican and she has a couple of songs in Spanish, the singer is not exactly fluent in the language. Back in 2010 Gomez said she wanted to get Rosetta Stone in order to <a href="http://www.latina.com/entertainment/celebrity/exclusive-selena-gomez-i-really-need-learn-spanish" target="_hplink">really learn Spanish.</a> <a href="http://www.latina.com/entertainment/celebrity/exclusive-selena-gomez-i-really-need-learn-spanish" target="_hplink">Gomez told Latina Magazine, </a>"I practice [Spanish], but I can understand it better than I can speak it."
Basketball player Kobe Bryant speaks fluent Spanish thanks to Don Franciso and "Sabado Gigante." Although he is joking and he actually learned Spanish because he speaks Italian, with that grin on his face we can't help but think that Kobe is a big fan of Don Francisco.
Actress Zoe Saldana, grew up in Queens speaking Spanish and English. Her father is Dominican and her mother is Puerto Rican. In the video the actress proves she still speaks perfectly fluent Spanish and has a very serious personality: "I didn't behave like the only girl [in the movie]," said Saldana. "I don't think like a woman. I think more like the guys. I have two sister. We're three girls at home. My mom wanted to have boys. She raised us with that independence and with a neutrality. She didn't raise us thinking 'you're only women' and men are only men. No, she told us 'you are whatever you want'."
Although Eva Longoria didn't learn how to speak Spanish <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2007-06-03-eva-longoria_N.htm" target="_hplink">until later in her life</a>, the "Desperate Housewives" star sounds like a natural. But here's some topics she still stays away from. "I can't argue politics in Spanish," <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2007-06-03-eva-longoria_N.htm" target="_hplink">Longoria told USA Today.</a> "But I get by."
Santana Lopez, portrayed by actress Naya Rivera, is a fiery Glee club member. In this episode Santana looses her temper with Rachel and let's out her frustration in the best way she knows how: with a loud rant in Spanish.