Benefits of Bilingualism

There have been  several  studies done lately on the benefits of bilingualism. What  was once was an opposed idea of raising bilingual children,  it is now  said to be found beneficial. I have found three articles ” The Benefits of Bilingualism” and   “The Benefits of Being Bilingual”    and finally  a study  done in 2004 Being Bilingual Boosts Brain Power whereby they actually study the brains of bilingual patients and researched the density of the brain.  Per the result of the study, depending on the age that the person became bilingual,  the denser the gray matter. The earlier you became bilingual, the more  matter and hence more function. In all three articles and studies the results have been quite equal; that in effect bilinguals do have more cognitive power.   Being brought up bilingual and trilingual, I would have guessed otherwise. From a personal standpoint, I tended to (and still do on occasion) to “code switch” which prevented me from sticking to one idea , thought or expression.  Yet, it is precisely that according to the studies, that boosts your brain because since both languages are always active, they need to keep them separate and focus on just one. This in turn, keeps your brain stimulated and always active forcing to focus on a task. This is particularly important in my line of work now. Given that I did tend  to ‘ switch”  from one language to another , you are more conscious of it and therefore aware of how to verbalize it in one. You are always with the “thinking cap” on.

There are of course the obvious benefits of better communication and understanding of cultures and in an increased globalized world your opportunities just increase and expand. Personally  this has been the case. Long before I became a translator and long before the requirement of being bilingual(because if you are not bilingual in Miami, your chances of employment decrease dramatically), I always had the upper-hand because I had the three languages under my belt. Given that I always had lived in Latin-America and had command of the cultural aspect as well, most of my positions were secured because of that fact. So there was always an added plus to that because you were able to conduct business and be the mediator in a transaction. And in  this highly globalized world, where although most still conduct transactions in English it is not now the only language of business.

Finally, being brought up bilingual  and living abroad most of my life has given me a broader outlook and experiences that has led me to my current profession. I don’t believe I could do it as well as I do, had I above all , not experienced the cultural aspect. As we all agree with , translation is not only about just being bilingual.

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