Language is the most prodigious invention of the human being, our way of representing thought and communicating. Our intelligence is structurally linguistic and that is why we think and transmit our knowledge with words. Doing it in two or more languages produces very beneficial effects on the intelligence, by reinforcing the executive functions, since the brain has to constantly select between them.
These executive functions suppose the maximum expression of human intelligence, allowing us to choose our behavior voluntarily, memorizing, fixing attention, choosing answers and directing actions towards distant goals. Language helps us to communicate with others, and with ourselves, it is the foundation of our social life, establishing order in our mind. Education is based mainly on language, oral and written communication. We would understand mathematics better if we understood the words they are explained to us through.
Educating in a bilingual environment and simultaneously learning two or more languages is a feat for the brain, associated with higher scores on intelligence tests and positive correlations in academic performance.
Monolingual children learn with the principle of exclusivity, that is, with a word for each object. On the other hand, multilingual children understand from a very early age that each object has more than one word, and create in their mind a file for each language, using the necessary one in each occasion. When developing few languages gradually, the same brain area relates each language and generates more complex interconnection schemes in terms of syntactic and grammatical rules, while they are implicitly learned.
Being bilingual not only changes the way in which neurological structures process information, but also alters the structures themselves. Bilingual and multilingual brains have a greater left lower parietal lobe and have more gray matter, which involves the neurons that function in cognition. Therefore, they have greater order and skills in cognitive processes, more mental flexibility and a better management of tasks that require changes, inhibition and monitoring of a conflict.
Neuroscience is to education what biology is to medicine and physics to architecture.
- Manfred Spitzer
Even though certain linguistic limitations have been observed in bilingual persons, such as greater difficulty in naming things, bilingualism has been related to a greater metalinguistic awareness, that is, the ability to recognize language as a system that can be manipulated and explore, as well as better memory, verbal, visuospatial and creative abilities.
Although at first learning more than one language can slow learning, in the long run forms an important brain reserve, especially useful in combating cognitive degeneration. Studies have already confirmed the effect of bilingualism in delaying mental deterioration in old age, by compensating the effects of accumulated neuropathology.
Evidence indicates that the brain shows an incredible malleability as a result of the learning experience of a language, so functional and neuroanatomical changes can occur throughout life.
When we have to learn the other language, we become aware of its complexity and richness, attending to the beauty, subtleties, twists and cunning of the language. Language has become an identity factor, but human intelligence, creator of language, is above anecdotal national or cultural separations. Knowing other cultures we can evaluate ours and compare cultural features helps us differentiate the universal from the local and the right from the wrong.
When we learn another language we know ours better.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In a globalized world, knowing how to speak in several languages is going to be a great passport for the future.
And how do we encourage a multilingual child?
Studies show that effectiveness in language learning is not a matter of time but of methodology, with convergence, flexibility and sustainability being three fundamental axes. The imagery method implements in its activities studies that the latest findings on cognitive development.
For example, linguistic development linked to action. Studies show the relationship between language and movement, and how certain words activate the motor and premotor cortex in the brain, similar to those that are stimulated when we perform physical activities, such as moving the tongue, arms and legs. On the other hand, it is shown that brain activity during sleep is essential to incorporate the words learned during the day into language, so the brain relaxation that encourages meditation is intrinsically linked to the method.
That the children look for something in Google, appear in a new language and analyze it with the same attention and curiosity that they would do if the result were in their native language. This is the main objective of the imagery method, marking in the student the beginning of a motu proprio continuity, natural and unlimited.