This study conducted by neuroscientist Brian Gold finds that people who have been bilingual since childhood have faster brains and suggests that this kind of bilingualism can slow the mental decline in aging. Both seniors and younger people’s bilingual brains were also found to be more efficient at performing certain mental activities involving switching between tasks.
I found this finding particularly ironic because some Asian Americans speak only English because it was thought that speaking more than one language at home would be harmful or had no benefit. Says scientist Gold, who grew up speaking French and English in Montreal: “Until very recently, learning a second language in childhood was thought of as dangerous. Actually, it’s beneficial.”