Bilingualism – Pros and Cons
4th May 2021
Selene Genovesi

Bilingualism – Pros and Cons

Being able to speak two or more languages is the dream of many of our readers and it is an incredibly positive skill. It makes you shine at work interviews, you become the soul of any party and, generally, friends use you as a walking dictionary, with your hidden yet profound satisfaction.

Many scientists have outlined the benefits of either learning a language as an adult or growing up in a multilingual environment. Amongst their findings, we read:

  1. That the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms are significantly delayed in bilinguals, leading to less brain degeneration on the long shot. Wow, right?
  2. Once a person can speak two languages, it seems to be easier for them to pick up on another one
  3. The brain of a multilingual speaker gets increasingly used to switch between two (or more) linguistic systems in a very short amount of time. This constant exercise helps them develop skills such as multitasking, long lasting memory, and the ability to maintain focus on a subject.
However, is bilingualism always positive?

Once upon a time, being fluent in two languages was considered dangerous, almost harmful, to a child’s education, causing slow results and low marks at school. Children growing up in multicultural and multilingual houses would struggle to understand when to use a language and when to use the other.

Interestingly, bilingual people might encounter communication problems if, for example, they speak a different language at home and at school. Although they understand both languages when listening, they might delay the development of other skills such as writing and speaking properly. A recent study also found that bilinguals suffer more from ‘tip of the tongue’ moments than monolingual speakers.

Also, it is believed that bilingual speakers, although they generally have more grey matter, do not possess the same ample semantic choice, meaning that they don’t know as many words as monolingual speakers, in specific contexts.

So, should we be bilingual or not?

Learning a language at any age is a wonderful journey, made of efforts, misunderstandings, errors, great satisfactions and endless fun! More importantly, languages are linked to cultures, to roots, to untranslatable jokes. Psychologists think that bilingual people have different personalities according to the language spoken and I love this statement.

Even Charlemagne used to say: “To have another language is to possess a second soul”!

Ultimately, the pros win over the cons and bilingualism is without doubt a mental “work out”, and you will be better at problem-solving and at decision-making.

Should you still have any doubts I will also add that quite frankly, a foreign accent is always, undeniably, sexy.

We can most certainly live with that.

For those who would like to start with their language learning journey today, remember we offer online lessons in the following languages and you can book a FREE trial lesson with one of our native speakers today:

And for more on this topic, take a look at this talk by Emilia Sanz Rios: The Overlooked Struggle of Bilingualism | TED Talk