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SciTech Study Says Speaking In Mother Tongue A Good Thing

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Study Says Speaking In Mother Tongue A Good Thing

TORONTO – This is indeed good news for many of us who came from, not a bilingual background, but from a trilingual background! A team of Canadian researchers, including a York University professor, has uncovered evidence that bilingualism can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by up to five years.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, follows up on a 2007 study led by York University, which found that lifelong use of two or more languages keeps symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia at bay.

Led by the Rotman Research Institute, the current study examined the clinical records of more than 200 patients diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s disease in the Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic at Toronto’s Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain.

"All the patients in the study had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so clearly bilingualism does not prevent the onset of dementia," says study co-author Ellen Bialystok, professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health and associate scientist at the Rotman Research Institute.

"Instead, our results show that people who have been lifelong bilinguals have built up a cognitive reserve that allows them to cope with the disease for a longer period of time before showing symptoms," she says.

While the brains of bilingual patients did show deterioration, researchers believe that the use of more than one language equips them with compensatory skills that keep symptoms like memory loss and confusion in check.

They found that bilingual patients were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 4.3 years later and had reported the onset of symptoms five years later than those who spoke only one language. The groups were equivalent on measures of cognitive and occupational level; there was no apparent effect of immigration status, and there were no differences between genders.

"Overall, bilingualism should be seen as an important tool for healthy aging, along with exercise, diet, and other lifestyle choices," Bialystok says. "It’s also another reason to encourage people in multicultural societies like ours to keep speaking their native tongue and pass it along to their children," she says

Link: http://thelinkpaper.ca/?p=1582


Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
Apparently bilingualism also stimulates intelligence in children according to some studies. A lot of news is doom and gloom about how languages are being lost but I found this which is more positive:

Archive safeguards city’s ‘precious’ mix of languages
A web-based archive, launched this week, is to document, protect and support the more than 100 languages spoken in one of Europe’s most diverse cities.

Professor Yaron Matras from The University of Manchester says the site will for the first time provide detailed information on Manchester’s diverse linguistic culture.

Languages spoken in Manchester include Yoruba, Urdu, Yiddish, Kurdish, Romani, Aramaic, Armenian, French, Punjabi, Bengali, Somali and Polish.

Project co-organiser Professor Matras, who is based at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, said: “Around two thirds of Mancunian schoolchildren are bilingual - a huge figure which indicates just how precious its linguistic culture is.

“This initiative will encourage communities to maintain their heritage languages at home and in their businesses without being compromised by the ever-present English.

“Gathering information about multilingualism will also help local authorities and services to take informed decisions about policies and community needs.”

The site- available at http://mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/ already contains reports - available free -on some of the various languages spoken in Manchester contributed by linguistics students.

The archive will grow as further reports- validated by the team – are added. The public and community groups are also welcome to contribute.

He added: “So little data on this area is available – but we do known that in Manchester’s schools, 65 different languages are spoken.

“Some 30% of secondary school pupils in Manchester – that’s 7,000 people- have a language other than English as their first tongue.

“And if you count the people who come from bilingual households, a figure of multilingual pupils may be as high as 60% of Manchester pupils.

“This project is a unique response to the challenges of a multicultural and multilingual environment.

“We hope it will help inspire others to celebrate Manchester’s cultural and linguistic diversity.”

It is part of a larger initiative called ‘Multilingual Manchester’, which is intended to forge a partnership between the University, local communities, businesses, services, and local government.




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