At Literary Hub, Masha Rumer discusses the enduring stigma of speaking a language other than English in America, despite proof of its advantages, such as how it helps with better communication and creative thinking.
Rumer breaks down the correlation between bilingualism and advanced executive function and cites her discussion with Ellen Bialystok, a renowned cognitive neuroscientist at York University in Toronto.
“What bilingualism is really doing is it’s shaping up the attention system to be more selective, more responsive, and to be better at picking up important information in the first year of life,” Bialystok explains. “These executive function skills predict long-term academic success and well-being.” Bialystok also adds that switching between languages stimulates the brain, builds up cognitive reserve, and “can delay the symptoms and diagnosis of dementia.” Bialystok adds, “Although bilingualism doesn’t stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks, it empowers the brain with better coping skills and gives the attention networks more resiliency, protecting against neurodegeneration.”
In Rumer’s forthcoming book, Parenting with an Accent: How Immigrants Honor Their Heritage, Navigate Setbacks, and Chart New Paths for Their Children, she spotlights various experiences of immigrant families across the country and provides essential insight into the nuances of multicultural parenting.