Today, we continue our four-part series on bilingual benefits, summarizing the four overarching benefits of learning another language. It’s time to discuss academic success which is both the most commonly cited benefit of learning another language and also the most controversial. The claim that learning another language makes you smarter is certainly eye catching and often the title of popular articles such as the Sunday Review Article in the NYTimes, ‘Why Bilinguals Are Smarter’. "Intelligence reflects the general ability to process information, which promotes learning, understanding, reasoning, [and] problem-solving," says Linda S. Gottfredson, PhD, a professor of education at the University of Delaware.
However, parents and professionals know that claiming anything makes one ‘smarter’ is dangerous territory. What is certain is that learning another language helps children have more success academically as measured by taking tests. On a variety of standardized tests such as the SAT, children who have studied a foreign language perform better on all exam sections especially on mathematics. This improvement was seen from children who studied another language just 15 minutes a day for one year. There are a variety of hypotheses as to why children who study another language do better on tests ranging from having a growth versus fixed mindset (the belief that traits such as intelligence are predetermined versus the belief that they can grow over time) to an actual increase in intelligence. Given what we’ve learned about the bilingual brain, it’s not much of a stretch to conclude that learning another language does increase a child’s overall intelligence.
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founder of gray tortuga, August 6, 2018