full transcript
"From the Ted Talk by Mia Nacamulli: The benefits of a bilingual brain"

Unscramble the Blue Letters

¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? 你会说中文吗? If you answered, "sí," "oui," or "会" and you're watching this in English, chceans are you bolneg to the world's bilingual and multilingual majority. And besides having an easier time traveling or watching movies without subtitles, kwninog two or more languages means that your brain may actually look and work differently than those of your monolingual friends. So what does it really mean to know a language? Language ability is typically measured in two aicvte parts, speaking and writing, and two passive ptras, listening and reading. While a balanced bigliuanl has near equal abilities across the board in two languages, most bilinguals around the world know and use their languages in varying proportions. And dnindeepg on their situation and how they acquired each language, they can be classified into three general types. For example, let's take Gabriella, whose fiamly immigrates to the US from Peru when she's two-years old. As a compound bilingual, Gabriella develops two linguistic codes suunslomtlaeiy, with a single set of concepts, learning both English and Spanish as she begins to process the world around her. Her teenage brother, on the other hand, might be a coordinate bilingual, wonkirg with two sets of concepts, learning English in school, while continuing to saepk Spanish at home and with friends. Finally, Gabriella's parents are likely to be subordinate bilinguals who learn a secondary language by filtering it through their primary language. Because all types of bilingual pploee can become fully proficient in a language regardless of accent or pariciuontonn, the difference may not be aapneprt to a casual observer. But recent avnecads in barin imaging technology have given neurolinguists a glimpse into how specific aspects of language learning affect the bilingual brain. It's well known that the brain's left hemisphere is more dominant and analytical in logical processes, while the right hherpiemse is more active in emotional and social ones, though this is a matter of degree, not an absolute split. The fact that language involves both types of functions while lateralization develops gradually with age, has lead to the critical prioed hphyseiots. According to this theory, cldirhen learn languages more easily because the plasticity of their developing brains lets them use both hepseimhers in lgauange acquisition, while in most adults, language is llzteareiad to one hemisphere, usually the left. If this is true, learning a language in childhood may give you a more holistic grasp of its social and emitonaol contexts. Conversely, recent research showed that people who learned a second language in adulthood exhibit less emotional bias and a more rational approach when confronting problems in the second language than in their native one. But regardless of when you acquire aidtadinol laauneggs, being multilingual gives your brain some remarkable adteagvans. Some of these are even visible, such as higher density of the grey matter that contains most of your brain's nnoures and ssaeypns, and more activity in certain regions when engaging a second language. The heightened workout a bilingual brain receives throughout its life can also help delay the onset of diseases, like Alzheimer's and dementia by as much as five years. The idea of mjoar cognitive benefits to bilingualism may seem intuitive now, but it would have surprised earlier experts. Before the 1960s, bilingualism was considered a handicap that slowed a child's development by fnricog them to spned too much erngey dnisightiuisng between languages, a view based largely on flawed suitdes. And while a more recent study did show that reaction times and errors increase for some bilingual students in cross-language tests, it also sewohd that the effort and attention needed to swtich between languages triggered more acvittiy in, and potentially strengthened, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that plays a large role in executive function, problem solving, switching between tsaks, and focusing while filtering out irrelevant information. So, while bilingualism may not nislearcesy make you smarter, it does make your brain more healthy, complex and actively engaged, and even if you didn't have the good ftnorue of learning a second language as a child, it's never too late to do yourself a favor and make the linguistic leap from, "Hello," to, "Hola," "Bonjour" or "你好’s" because when it comes to our brains a little exercise can go a long way.

Open Cloze

¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? 你会说中文吗? If you answered, "sí," "oui," or "会" and you're watching this in English, _______ are you ______ to the world's bilingual and multilingual majority. And besides having an easier time traveling or watching movies without subtitles, _______ two or more languages means that your brain may actually look and work differently than those of your monolingual friends. So what does it really mean to know a language? Language ability is typically measured in two ______ parts, speaking and writing, and two passive _____, listening and reading. While a balanced _________ has near equal abilities across the board in two languages, most bilinguals around the world know and use their languages in varying proportions. And _________ on their situation and how they acquired each language, they can be classified into three general types. For example, let's take Gabriella, whose ______ immigrates to the US from Peru when she's two-years old. As a compound bilingual, Gabriella develops two linguistic codes ______________, with a single set of concepts, learning both English and Spanish as she begins to process the world around her. Her teenage brother, on the other hand, might be a coordinate bilingual, _______ with two sets of concepts, learning English in school, while continuing to _____ Spanish at home and with friends. Finally, Gabriella's parents are likely to be subordinate bilinguals who learn a secondary language by filtering it through their primary language. Because all types of bilingual ______ can become fully proficient in a language regardless of accent or _____________, the difference may not be ________ to a casual observer. But recent ________ in _____ imaging technology have given neurolinguists a glimpse into how specific aspects of language learning affect the bilingual brain. It's well known that the brain's left hemisphere is more dominant and analytical in logical processes, while the right __________ is more active in emotional and social ones, though this is a matter of degree, not an absolute split. The fact that language involves both types of functions while lateralization develops gradually with age, has lead to the critical ______ __________. According to this theory, ________ learn languages more easily because the plasticity of their developing brains lets them use both ___________ in ________ acquisition, while in most adults, language is ___________ to one hemisphere, usually the left. If this is true, learning a language in childhood may give you a more holistic grasp of its social and _________ contexts. Conversely, recent research showed that people who learned a second language in adulthood exhibit less emotional bias and a more rational approach when confronting problems in the second language than in their native one. But regardless of when you acquire __________ _________, being multilingual gives your brain some remarkable __________. Some of these are even visible, such as higher density of the grey matter that contains most of your brain's _______ and ________, and more activity in certain regions when engaging a second language. The heightened workout a bilingual brain receives throughout its life can also help delay the onset of diseases, like Alzheimer's and dementia by as much as five years. The idea of _____ cognitive benefits to bilingualism may seem intuitive now, but it would have surprised earlier experts. Before the 1960s, bilingualism was considered a handicap that slowed a child's development by _______ them to _____ too much ______ ______________ between languages, a view based largely on flawed _______. And while a more recent study did show that reaction times and errors increase for some bilingual students in cross-language tests, it also ______ that the effort and attention needed to ______ between languages triggered more ________ in, and potentially strengthened, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that plays a large role in executive function, problem solving, switching between _____, and focusing while filtering out irrelevant information. So, while bilingualism may not ___________ make you smarter, it does make your brain more healthy, complex and actively engaged, and even if you didn't have the good _______ of learning a second language as a child, it's never too late to do yourself a favor and make the linguistic leap from, "Hello," to, "Hola," "Bonjour" or "你好’s" because when it comes to our brains a little exercise can go a long way.

Solution

  1. distinguishing
  2. spend
  3. working
  4. showed
  5. apparent
  6. simultaneously
  7. necessarily
  8. switch
  9. pronunciation
  10. languages
  11. period
  12. active
  13. forcing
  14. advantages
  15. energy
  16. emotional
  17. advances
  18. hemispheres
  19. brain
  20. synapses
  21. studies
  22. people
  23. children
  24. lateralized
  25. belong
  26. hypothesis
  27. bilingual
  28. speak
  29. depending
  30. chances
  31. neurons
  32. additional
  33. family
  34. hemisphere
  35. fortune
  36. major
  37. language
  38. knowing
  39. parts
  40. tasks
  41. activity

Original Text

¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? 你会说中文吗? If you answered, "sí," "oui," or "会" and you're watching this in English, chances are you belong to the world's bilingual and multilingual majority. And besides having an easier time traveling or watching movies without subtitles, knowing two or more languages means that your brain may actually look and work differently than those of your monolingual friends. So what does it really mean to know a language? Language ability is typically measured in two active parts, speaking and writing, and two passive parts, listening and reading. While a balanced bilingual has near equal abilities across the board in two languages, most bilinguals around the world know and use their languages in varying proportions. And depending on their situation and how they acquired each language, they can be classified into three general types. For example, let's take Gabriella, whose family immigrates to the US from Peru when she's two-years old. As a compound bilingual, Gabriella develops two linguistic codes simultaneously, with a single set of concepts, learning both English and Spanish as she begins to process the world around her. Her teenage brother, on the other hand, might be a coordinate bilingual, working with two sets of concepts, learning English in school, while continuing to speak Spanish at home and with friends. Finally, Gabriella's parents are likely to be subordinate bilinguals who learn a secondary language by filtering it through their primary language. Because all types of bilingual people can become fully proficient in a language regardless of accent or pronunciation, the difference may not be apparent to a casual observer. But recent advances in brain imaging technology have given neurolinguists a glimpse into how specific aspects of language learning affect the bilingual brain. It's well known that the brain's left hemisphere is more dominant and analytical in logical processes, while the right hemisphere is more active in emotional and social ones, though this is a matter of degree, not an absolute split. The fact that language involves both types of functions while lateralization develops gradually with age, has lead to the critical period hypothesis. According to this theory, children learn languages more easily because the plasticity of their developing brains lets them use both hemispheres in language acquisition, while in most adults, language is lateralized to one hemisphere, usually the left. If this is true, learning a language in childhood may give you a more holistic grasp of its social and emotional contexts. Conversely, recent research showed that people who learned a second language in adulthood exhibit less emotional bias and a more rational approach when confronting problems in the second language than in their native one. But regardless of when you acquire additional languages, being multilingual gives your brain some remarkable advantages. Some of these are even visible, such as higher density of the grey matter that contains most of your brain's neurons and synapses, and more activity in certain regions when engaging a second language. The heightened workout a bilingual brain receives throughout its life can also help delay the onset of diseases, like Alzheimer's and dementia by as much as five years. The idea of major cognitive benefits to bilingualism may seem intuitive now, but it would have surprised earlier experts. Before the 1960s, bilingualism was considered a handicap that slowed a child's development by forcing them to spend too much energy distinguishing between languages, a view based largely on flawed studies. And while a more recent study did show that reaction times and errors increase for some bilingual students in cross-language tests, it also showed that the effort and attention needed to switch between languages triggered more activity in, and potentially strengthened, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that plays a large role in executive function, problem solving, switching between tasks, and focusing while filtering out irrelevant information. So, while bilingualism may not necessarily make you smarter, it does make your brain more healthy, complex and actively engaged, and even if you didn't have the good fortune of learning a second language as a child, it's never too late to do yourself a favor and make the linguistic leap from, "Hello," to, "Hola," "Bonjour" or "你好’s" because when it comes to our brains a little exercise can go a long way.

Important Words

  1. abilities
  2. ability
  3. absolute
  4. accent
  5. acquire
  6. acquired
  7. acquisition
  8. active
  9. actively
  10. activity
  11. additional
  12. adulthood
  13. adults
  14. advances
  15. advantages
  16. affect
  17. age
  18. analytical
  19. answered
  20. apparent
  21. approach
  22. aspects
  23. attention
  24. balanced
  25. based
  26. begins
  27. belong
  28. benefits
  29. bias
  30. bilingual
  31. bilingualism
  32. bilinguals
  33. board
  34. brain
  35. brains
  36. brother
  37. casual
  38. chances
  39. child
  40. childhood
  41. children
  42. classified
  43. codes
  44. cognitive
  45. complex
  46. compound
  47. concepts
  48. confronting
  49. considered
  50. contexts
  51. continuing
  52. conversely
  53. coordinate
  54. cortex
  55. critical
  56. degree
  57. delay
  58. dementia
  59. density
  60. depending
  61. developing
  62. development
  63. develops
  64. difference
  65. differently
  66. diseases
  67. distinguishing
  68. dominant
  69. dorsolateral
  70. earlier
  71. easier
  72. easily
  73. effort
  74. emotional
  75. energy
  76. engaged
  77. engaging
  78. english
  79. equal
  80. errors
  81. executive
  82. exercise
  83. exhibit
  84. experts
  85. fact
  86. family
  87. favor
  88. filtering
  89. finally
  90. flawed
  91. focusing
  92. forcing
  93. fortune
  94. friends
  95. fully
  96. function
  97. functions
  98. gabriella
  99. general
  100. give
  101. glimpse
  102. good
  103. gradually
  104. grasp
  105. grey
  106. hand
  107. handicap
  108. healthy
  109. heightened
  110. hemisphere
  111. hemispheres
  112. higher
  113. holistic
  114. home
  115. hypothesis
  116. idea
  117. imaging
  118. immigrates
  119. increase
  120. information
  121. intuitive
  122. involves
  123. irrelevant
  124. knowing
  125. language
  126. languages
  127. large
  128. largely
  129. late
  130. lateralization
  131. lateralized
  132. lead
  133. leap
  134. learn
  135. learned
  136. learning
  137. left
  138. lets
  139. life
  140. linguistic
  141. listening
  142. logical
  143. long
  144. major
  145. majority
  146. matter
  147. means
  148. measured
  149. monolingual
  150. movies
  151. multilingual
  152. native
  153. necessarily
  154. needed
  155. neurolinguists
  156. neurons
  157. observer
  158. onset
  159. parents
  160. part
  161. parts
  162. passive
  163. people
  164. period
  165. peru
  166. plasticity
  167. plays
  168. potentially
  169. prefrontal
  170. primary
  171. problem
  172. problems
  173. process
  174. processes
  175. proficient
  176. pronunciation
  177. proportions
  178. rational
  179. reaction
  180. reading
  181. receives
  182. regions
  183. remarkable
  184. research
  185. role
  186. school
  187. secondary
  188. set
  189. sets
  190. show
  191. showed
  192. simultaneously
  193. single
  194. situation
  195. slowed
  196. smarter
  197. social
  198. solving
  199. spanish
  200. speak
  201. speaking
  202. specific
  203. spend
  204. split
  205. strengthened
  206. students
  207. studies
  208. study
  209. subordinate
  210. subtitles
  211. surprised
  212. switch
  213. switching
  214. synapses
  215. tasks
  216. technology
  217. teenage
  218. tests
  219. theory
  220. time
  221. times
  222. traveling
  223. triggered
  224. true
  225. types
  226. typically
  227. varying
  228. view
  229. visible
  230. watching
  231. work
  232. working
  233. workout
  234. world
  235. writing
  236. years