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  Advantages of being bilingual

Advantages of being bilingual

Published : Nov 22, 2015, 9:43 pm IST
Updated : Nov 22, 2015, 9:43 pm IST

Here are a few more reasons to learn another language — being bilingual will protect you from a stroke

Representational Image
 Representational Image

Here are a few more reasons to learn another language — being bilingual will protect you from a stroke

Bilingual people are twice as likely to recover from a stroke than those who speak just one language, a study has found.


Although the ability to converse in a second language may seem irrelevant to physical health, it appears to protect the brain against devastating damage to mental functions.

The University of Edinburgh found that 40 per cent of bilingual patients regained normal function following a stroke, compared with just 20 per cent of those who spoke only one language.

The team previously discovered that people who speak more than one language develop dementia several years than monolinguists.

Co-author, Thomas Bak, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences said: “Bilingualism makes people to switch from one language to another, so while they inhibit one language, they have to activate another to communicate. This switching offers practically constant brain training which may be a factor in helping stroke patients recover.”


The study, which was published in the journal Stroke, used data from 608 stroke patients in Hyderabad who were assessed, on attention skills and the ability to retrieve and organise information.

Researchers chose Hyderabad because it is a multicultural city in which many languages are commonly spoken.

Even when allowing for health factors such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and age, there was a clear benefit for people who could speak at least two languages.

Researchers say these studies suggest the mental challenge of speaking more than one language can boost cognitive reserve — an improved ability of the brain to cope with damaging influences such as stroke or dementia.


It suggests that other activities which boost brain power such as taking part in night classes, playing chess, doing crosswords, learning an instrument could also prevent the mental decline.