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 asewrend, "sí," "oui," or "会" and you're watching this in English, chances are you belong to the world's bilingual and multilingual mriaotjy. And besides having an easier time tlriaevng or watching movies without subtitles, knowing two or more languages means that your bairn may actually look and work dlfnfrteiey than those of your monolingual fnirdes. So what does it really mean to know a language? Language aiitbly is typically meauserd in two active prats, sikenapg and wtinirg, 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 wrold know and use their lneuggaas in varying proportions. And depending on their situation and how they acquired each laggaune, they can be classified into three general types. For example, let's take gaebillra, whose family immigrates to the US from Peru when she's two-years old. As a compound bilingual, Gabriella develops two linguistic codes sunmueltolsiay, 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 snatouidrbe 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 leanirng affect the bilingual brain. It's well known that the brain's left hemisphere is more dominant and ayatlcainl in lgciaol processes, while the right hemisphere is more aitvce 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 tehory, children laren languages more easily because the plasticity of their developing brains lets them use both hhrmeseeips in language atiuiioqscn, while in most adults, language is lzreteaaild to one hipemhsree, usually the left. If this is true, learning a language in childhood may give you a more holistic grasp of its social and eimanotol 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 aqrcuie additional languages, being multilingual gives your brain some rbakramlee atdvaganes. Some of these are even visible, such as heighr density of the grey matter that contains most of your brain's neurons and spysnaes, 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 diaseess, like Alzheimer's and dementia by as much as five yreas. 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 errros increase for some bilingual students in cross-language tstes, it also showed that the effort and attention needed to switch between languages triggered more activity in, and potentially shteenetgnrd, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that plays a lgare role in eexicvtue 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 eaggend, 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.

Open Cloze

¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? 你会说中文吗? If you ________, "sí," "oui," or "会" and you're watching this in English, chances are you belong to the world's bilingual and multilingual ________. And besides having an easier time _________ or watching movies without subtitles, knowing two or more languages means that your _____ may actually look and work ___________ than those of your monolingual _______. So what does it really mean to know a language? Language _______ is typically ________ in two active _____, ________ and _______, 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 _____ know and use their _________ in varying proportions. And depending on their situation and how they acquired each ________, they can be classified into three general types. For example, let's take _________, whose family 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, 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 ___________ 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 ________ affect the bilingual brain. It's well known that the brain's left hemisphere is more dominant and __________ in _______ processes, while the right hemisphere is more ______ 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 ______, children _____ languages more easily because the plasticity of their developing brains lets them use both ___________ in language ___________, while in most adults, language is ___________ to one __________, 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 _______ additional languages, being multilingual gives your brain some __________ __________. Some of these are even visible, such as ______ density of the grey matter that contains most of your brain's neurons 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 ________, like Alzheimer's and dementia by as much as five _____. 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 ______ increase for some bilingual students in cross-language _____, it also showed that the effort and attention needed to switch between languages triggered more activity in, and potentially ____________, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that plays a _____ role in _________ 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 _______, 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.

Solution

  1. gabriella
  2. answered
  3. writing
  4. diseases
  5. world
  6. executive
  7. acquisition
  8. parts
  9. hemisphere
  10. majority
  11. tests
  12. strengthened
  13. errors
  14. engaged
  15. subordinate
  16. lateralized
  17. synapses
  18. languages
  19. brain
  20. learning
  21. hemispheres
  22. language
  23. learn
  24. acquire
  25. active
  26. higher
  27. speaking
  28. theory
  29. emotional
  30. large
  31. differently
  32. friends
  33. simultaneously
  34. remarkable
  35. advantages
  36. measured
  37. years
  38. logical
  39. ability
  40. traveling
  41. analytical

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.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
bilingual brain 2

Important Words

  1. abilities
  2. ability
  3. absolute
  4. accent
  5. acquire
  6. acquired
  7. acquisition
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  19. answered
  20. apparent
  21. approach
  22. aspects
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  24. balanced
  25. based
  26. begins
  27. belong
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  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
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  62. development
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  216. synapses
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  218. technology
  219. teenage
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  222. time
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  225. triggered
  226. true
  227. types
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  232. watching
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  235. workout
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  238. years