Brain scans have shown that those who are bilingual have denser gray matter than their monolingual counterparts, with the densest gray matter found in those who learned the second language earliest.


Beyond scans, bilingualism has proven to provide tangible, real-world benefits. Researchers from London’s Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience studied 22 native Italian speakers who had learned English as a second language between ages 2 and 34. They found that those who had learned English at a young age had a greater proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking in their native language.

Additionally, because bilingual people switch between languages, their minds are more flexible and agile, and they develop more control over their cognitive processes. Scientists call this “enhanced executive control,” but in practical terms, it means advantages in areas such as

  • Problem-solving
  • Memory
  • Thought
  • Sustained attention