Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Bilingual Brain

Reading Girl 1During the last year at graduate school, a delicate young lady lived across the door to my room. At late night and early morning, I heard that she read aloud in a language I didn’t understand at all. One evening, I knocked her door open, asking her why I could not understand her English a little bit.

She said, “I am a Doctorate candidate for Medicine. There are a lot of long difficult Biological and Medical terms and abstract academic content to memorize. I am almost 30, unable to memorize things easily in a foreign language, so I translate them into my native language Romanian first, recite over again to commit to memory, and then I can learn and remember them in English.” I looked at her textbooks, scared by all the hard long words. I guess she spent twice more time than an average student did.

During some sleepless nights, I heard she read loudly and drearily in Romanian, feeling frustrated and bored by school life. I believed I could never get a Ph.D.

Actually, I also had trouble thinking clearly and memorizing text in English during my school years. I felt my native language flew freely from my right brain, but English was stuck in my left brain broken into vague pieces.

The human brain functions complexly. If our mind is in the clouds, we still can muddle along with our study and work in our native language. However, it requires more mental energy, focus and inner peace to think, memorize and analyze in a foreign language. If there is no harmony inside us, it is very hard for us to study and work efficiently with a second language.

According to a research, bilingual people have an advantage: the structure of the human brain is altered by the experience of acquiring a second language - the bilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills.

Some US researchers theorize that speaking two languages may increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain and keep nerve connections healthy—factors thought to help ward off dementia. Being bilingual may help to keep the brain sharper for longer.

The brain can be thought of as the command centre of the human nervous system. The more we stimulate our brain with thinking activities and movement the more it will reward us. How well we nourish our brain determine how well our brain functions. We have to eat right and sleep sound to maintain our vigor, vitality and creativity at a high level.

I don't remember the lady's name, but she ever told me she could speak several European languages a little, such as French, German and Czech. She is more than bilingual. And her parents passed away.


Tours with Shoki said...

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Anonymous said...

Nice info, I'm not already know it before read your post. Thanks for the post....

Poetic Shutterbug said...

Very informative post. It is essential to keep learning more and more each and everyday to keep our brains healthy and active. Great post.

Jade Meng said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting.

This lady also told me she didn't know how to drive and didn't want to learn. She hoped she could find a job in New York City after she graduated so that she would not need a car at all.

I hope she has already got everything she wanted from life and more.

Daniel Ng said...

'the bilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills....'

Thanks for the i feel GOOD!

Jade Meng said...

Daniel, I notice you haven't written for several weeks. Please continue on your good writing.

Your English must be better than me, for English is official language in your country. Feel better?

Steve Borgman said...

This reminds me of a Japanese student who attended the English speaking boarding school where I went to high school, in Brazil, South America. His tenacity was amazing. He barely spoke English, and studied constantly, looking every word up in his Japanese to English dictionary. He is probably as CEO somewhere now!

Jade Meng said...

Anything can be improved by deliberate pratice. Sometimes, tenacity is more important than intelligence. You have a nice site.