For years the dispute between bilingual and monolingual has copied the web with arguments of all kinds, ranging from the classics “who speak two languages are better qualified for the labor market” to the statements almost without justification possible as “speak two languages Will make you happier. “
The truth is that the validity or falsity of these statements can only be determined in concrete environments that escape these generalizations. That is to say, it is possible that in some cases to handle two languages may mean an advantage to gain access to a better job or better paid positions, but it could not be established that this is an essential condition for accessing that position in another context . It could happen, for example, with journalists but not with teachers or doctors, and in turn would depend not only on the profession of the worker but also on other variables such as the company in which he exercises, the country in which he resides, etc.
At the level of research, these statements that defend one position or another are widely questioned. But beyond its confirmation or rejection, or what science seeks to understand to eliminate once and for all this dispute is whether the fact of handling one or two languages can cause some kind of effect on the human being beyond its forms To communicate .
Recent advances show that this can happen, and that basically learning a second language can in a way modify our brain and the ways it uses to work.
By analyzing the flow of water running through the brain in monolingual and bilingual people, a group of researchers at the University of Washington focused on what happens with white matter in the brain in people who hear a second language they know and people who They listen to a language they can not speak or understand. As a result of this analysis they found that the aspects in which each person concentrates and the ways they use to connect ideas change according to the amount of languages that are handled. The main conclusion of this study was that bilinguals have a healthier or more effective white substance , and therefore are more efficient for some tasks than those who handle a single language.
Thanks to other studies we already knew that those who handle two languages exercise a greater number of brain areas, and according to the universities of Northwestern and Houston that these also have greater facilities to concentrate on a task and avoid external distractions. But this contribution from the University of Washington goes a step further in this dispute because it demonstrates a testable physical change in the composition of the brain and the state of health of its white matter that until now had not been identified.
So, if you want to have a healthy brain and take care of your white matter maybe it would be a good idea to sign up for a language course next season.