The bilingual brain


This is a very interesting TEDx Talk about the “benefits of a bilingual brain” by Mia Nacamulli. – I only would like to point out that if grown ups learn a new language, they usually do it in a very “conventional” way, which is rule-based (i.e. using books, learning grammar first) which leads to using one side of the brain only, like it is mentioned in this film/talk.

When adults learn a new language in the same spontaneous, memory based way like children, the brain activity is then similar to the one of children who acquire a new language by involving both hemispheres. The approach is then less rational and more emotional.

What are you, a compound bilingual, a coordinate bilingual or a subordinate bilingual?


A compound bilingual:

The person learns the two languages in the same context where they are used concurrently, so that there is a fused representation of the languages in the brain. – This is the case when a child is brought up by bilingual parents, or those from two different linguistic backgrounds. This is additive in nature.

A coordinate bilingual:

The person learns the languages in separate environments, and words of the two languages are kept separate with each word having its own specific meaning.


A subordinate bilingual:

The person attained her bilingualism later in life. As a result, she often uses her primary language to subordinate the second language (cfr. Two Types of Bilingualism).

What is said about Alzheimer and Dementia is not only related to bilingualism. The same beneficial effect can be observed in people who engage their brain actively on a regular basis.

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