Student learning in the classroom


Being bilingual in English and French is especially beneficial for those living in Canada’s capital. Bilingualism is essential for most careers in government, travel, or corporate affairs. The development of strong language skills at a young age provides an invaluable asset throughout a child’s life.

makes you

Studies show that being bilingual makes you smarter. In recent years, scientists have seen its profound effect on the brain, improving cognitive skills and protecting against dementia in old age.

The following excerpt from the New York Times article “Why Bilinguals Are Smarter,” explains how the bilingual brain functions:

“The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.

Why does the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition? Until recently, researchers thought the bilingual advantage stemmed primarily from an ability for inhibition that was honed by the exercise of suppressing one language system: this suppression, it was thought, would help train the bilingual mind to ignore distractions in other contexts. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page.”

and long-term

The following excerpt from the New York Times article “Why Bilinguals Are Smarter,” explains how bilingualism contributes to long-term health:

“Bilingualism’s effects also extend into the twilight years. In a recent study of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals, scientists led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism — measured through a comparative evaluation of proficiency in each language — were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.”