Memory Among Monolingual and Bilingual Speakers
There have been many studies that have tried to pinpoint the similarities and differences between monolingual and bilingual speakers. The Good, Bad and indifferent emphasizes on the many matters regarding the significance of certain tasks that show the differences between monolingual and bilingual speakers. The effects of being agile in certain tasks can have help to have an understanding the cognitive performance among these speakers (Bialystok).
There have been many studies that have tried to pinpoint the similarities and differences among monolingual and bilingual speakers when performing certain tasks. These studies tested the lexical and grammatical trends which proved to show differences among the speakers. When placed to do these tasks monolingual speakers tended to outperform on tasks involving lexical retrieval whereas bilingual speakers outperformed in tasks that involved multitasking or the manipulation of languages. While Bialystok does a good job at showing evidence that bilinguals are under-performing in lexical and grammatical tasks, she fails to analyze the reasons why bilinguals are not as agile to these tasks in comparison to monolinguals. The fact that bilingual speakers continuously switch in between languages allows them to be agile in multitasking (Bialystok). As a result, I am able to understand through my personal narrative the reasons why this evidence is true.
In a personal narrative, I discuss my personal experiences in translating English to Spanish and vice versa (Rodriguez). It is a daunting task, because each language has its own unique system of patterns that makes up their phonological system. This explains the under-performance in lexical and grammatical tasks. Monolingual speakers certainly would have a higher concentration of their one language in comparison to the additional language bilinguals have to juggle. In preschool, for instance, a child is exposed to preliminary social and intellectual development: alphabet, colors, shapes, and sounds. If we divide the class into those that speak just English and those children that speak both English and Spanish we easily determine the differences in cognitive development. If both groups of children were to be asked to identify the name and sound a dog makes, what would they say? A monolingual English speaker will only have one response that is limited to saying ‘dog’ and ‘woof woof’ whereas a bilingual speaker has to memorize twice as much vocabulary as a monolingual speaker to make an accurate response. They would interpret the animal not only as ‘dog’ but also as ‘perro’. In addition, they would have twice the onomatopoeias for a dog: ‘woof woof’ and ‘guau guau’.
Although bilinguals may have a decreased performance in lexical and grammatical tasks, as stated in previous studies, bilinguals are able to juggle two languages which makes them excellent multitasks. Being able to switch from one language to another permits their brains to explore different regions that would not have been touched otherwise. This eventually can increase the brain’s plasticity to new settings or situations, such as degenerative neurological disorders.
For more information: Bialystok, Ellen. "Bilingualism: the good, the bad, and the indifferent." International Symposium on Bilingualism Lecture. Cambridge University Press, 2008. 3-10.
The Possible Cure to Losing Your Mind by Wendy J. Rodriguez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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