The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Being fluent in more than one language makes you at least feel smarter, even if it doesn't necessarily make you so. If nothing else, you gain entry into another word of communications, literature and culture, which broadens your horizons. Plus, it increases your chances of knowing when others are talking about you, right in front of you, in a foreign tongue.

Now, research out of Canadian academia reveals that packing a spare language makes for a more flexible, active brain, thereby making you, indeed, smarter. (A more full report is available here.)

Having been raised bilingual, this is good to hear; nice to know my brain is nice and flexible. Of course, my brother and cousins also had this bilingual upbringing, and on average, I'd say we're all pretty bright.

I have friends who are rearing their newborn offspring right now, and they've all been at least considering second-language instruction at an early stage. News like this should encourage them. I would suggest they pick a second language with some more practical facility than my secondary lingo (I also know a good bit of German and Spanish, but nowhere near enough of either to claim fluency).