Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are Bilinguals and Polyglots More Intelligent?

Intelligence and Bilingualism
This is a big topic. I know that the monolingual (Americans and Brits) are going to take offense to this. But there is significant evidence that people who are bilingual and polyglots are more intelligent than monolinguals. 

The research indicates that this difference is not genetic. ( Bilinguals and Polyglots are not born smarter.)  

Remember that IQ is both genetic and environmental. One can be born with great smart genes...yet little drive to improve oneself in this world. How much will they really amount to? Although I do not personally subscribe to the believe that all bilinguals are smarter than monolinguals, I do think that on average, they are smarter.

The choice to be bilingual is a life changing choice. It is a choice that will make you a smarter person. I have made it one of my life goals to encourage and support others who want to become polyglots. This blog entry, however, asks that age old question - are bilinguals and polyglots smarter than monolinguals? Anytime we talk about intelligence, feelings get hurt, so I will look at this question with as much grace as I can. 

The image below is from a recent peer review article examining the verbal intelligence of bilingual vs. monolingual children. It shows a significant difference in the verbal intelligence between monolinguals and bilinguals. The most useful studies, are longitudinal studies examining the intelligence difference between monolinguals and bilinguals. 

 The studies all show that Bi-lingual children are more intelligent, verbose, and concentrate better than their monolingual friends. There are many other peer reviewed studies of bilingualism, and multilingualism that I can refer to. 

Did you know that less that twenty-five percent of Americans can hold a conversation in another language? Of that group, only fifty-five percent of those can hold a conversation in Spanish. Here are some more facts about linguists:

  • Decreases with advanced age-- Younger Americans, aged 18-29, are far more likely than other age groups to be bilingual, with 43% able to speak a second language, compared to 25% of those aged 30 to 49, 22% of those 50 to 64, and only 15% of Americans 65 and older.
  • Increases with advanced education-- Twenty percent of high school graduates are bilingual, compared to 25% of those with some college experience, 33% of college graduates and 43% of those with postgraduate education.

  • Varies by region-- A substantially larger percentage of residents of the western United States -- 40% -- are bilingual, compared to 25% of those living in the East, 22% in the South, and 19% in the Midwest.
  • Varies by ideology --Those who characterize their ideology as liberal (33%) are more likely to be bilingual than are moderates (26%) and conservatives (23%).
These are some pretty interesting statistics. Other things we know about linguists, is that the more education they have, the more likely the will be bi-lingual. 

So, lets break it down

Of Americans, the most likely to speak more than one language are: younger, liberals, reside in Western United States, and hold at least a Bachelor Degree. 

The least likely would be: older, conservative, mid-westerners with a GED. 

New research into the neurobiology of polyglots found that being fluent in two or more languages enhances a persons ability to concentrate, but also protects against the onset of dementia. 

I hope you enjoyed this short blog. It is about eleven pm, and time for me to go to bed. If you are interested in Stephen Pinker, I suggest watching the first embedded video. 

Bonne Nuit Mes Amis!

1 comment:

Sabedoria Filosofia said...

The order of factors change the results (sorry, yes, my anglische is horrible)...

Is not, bilingualism ''made'' someone smarter.

Is, people who are, on average, ''verbally'' smarter, tend to be smarter, specially because verbal intelligence among most of human populations correlates very well with general (full-psychometric) intelligence.

Same situation in studies where researchers found that people who play more video games are smarter than those who don't like to play video game (on average).

Is not, video game made someone smarter.

Is, on average, people who are smarter tend to play video games with higher frequency than those who tend don't play video games.

And is underlying why some subgroups of smart people tend to like learn other languages or play video games, more necessity to MENTAL STIMULI and brain typology.

I'm a brazilian blogger and is the first time i visit this blog,


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