6.1 The Advantages of Bilingualism

Bilingualism doesn’t appear to have any linguistic disadvantages (Snow, 1993). There have be cases of initial delay in vocabulary acquisition in one language but this soon passes. Bilinguals tend to have a slight deficit in working memory tasks in L2. However, they have greater metalinguistic awareness and verbal fluency (Ben-Zeev, 1977; Bialystock, 2001; Cook, 1997). For example, children in Canadian French immersion programs tended to score highly on creativity tests than monolinguals (Lambert, Tucker & d’Anglejan, 1973).

Being a bilingual gives you the awareness that words are arbitrary symbols for things. There are some researchers who have found interference between L1 and L2 (Harley & Wang, 1997). However, there is evidence to suggest that bilingualism provides a general cognitive advantage. There is even some data that indicates that bilingualism protects individuals from the development of Alzheimer’s disease by slowing down cognitive aging (Bialystok, Craik, & Luk, 2012).



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Psychology of Language Copyright © 2021 by Dinesh Ramoo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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