Bad News for “English Only” Fanatics: You're Going SENILE
OK, that’s an exaggeration. But this report indicates that multilingual people have reduced and delayed the mental effects of aging. (If the first link doesn’t work, try this one.)
So, along with wolfing down zillions of cherries, berries and fish oil capsules and doing lots of crossword puzzles — start learning and speaking other languages. And quit blubbering about English being the official language.
On the average, people who regularly speak two or more languages start to lose their cognitive abilities about four years later than those who only use one language. Bilingual people in their 70s have scored much higher than their monolingual counterparts in tests for various cognitive skills.
The main researcher, Ellen Bialystok, thinks the increased cognitive ability comes from constantly having to decide which language to use and which language to suppress. She says “every time you want to speak one language, the other language is activated in the brain as well. That means you need a mechanism so that you're only drawing from the right pool of words. It’s going to be a mechanism that works extremely fast…while you're producing sentences. It’s way below your radar for detecting what's happening.”
As a result, bilingual people are more highly skilled in tuning out distractions so they can focus and concentrate; and they're better equipped for rapid decision-making and multi-tasking.