Language Stories

Unexpected benefits of being bilingual: creativity soars

Posted by Language Stars on Sep 13, 2017 3:20:35 PM


There are countless benefits to learning multiple languages. In addition to speaking a new tongue, studies show that kids who are multilingual excel in other subject areas, too, such as mathematics. It also helps them learn about diversity, which can in turn increase cultural understanding and empathy toward others.

These benefits are noteworthy, but there's another advantage less often discussed: increased creativity. Experts argue that learning a foreign language helps expand the mind in new and profound ways that allow for an explosion of creativity. 

Language as a creative spark

The structure of a language helps children to think differently. Words represent things that may not have a direct equivalent in their native language. This gives them a new outlook on their experiences, which in turn can influence creativity, problem-solving and so much more.

"Allowing yourself to be influenced by a particular language’s mechanics, especially in regard to the syntax and the formations of its figurative language, with emphasis here on the metaphor — contributes to the establishment of creativity and complex thinking as well as one’s understanding regarding the natures and relationships of things," according to the article Being Bilingual Sparks Creativity from Psychology Today.

The author states, "I believe this kind of linguistic influence can spark early patterns of creative skill, thinking and vision that then snowball throughout life."

Increased artistic expression

When children learn a new language, they relate it to their current language, comprehending how it's similar or different. The differences allow the student to learn new interpretations of common expressions and experiences. Suddenly, they're thinking about something in a unique manner, whether it be how to cook a recipe or the color of the grass.

This unique way of thinking can influence artistic expression in many ways for kids. Your child may now paint a landscape with a unique set of colors. They may sculpt an abstract representation of their family. Young children may use dramatic play to act out scenes you would have never imagined. It's all influenced by the multilingual mind!

Musical influences abound

Music is one form of artistic expression that has a deep connection to the languages a person speaks. Because different languages require different tones to produce words and phrases, the people who speak those languages are better at identifying a variety of tones, including when they play or compose music.

For example, according to a PLOS study, speakers of a tone language, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, were better at identifying musical pitches than those who spoke non-tone languages like English. A tone language changes a word's meaning depending on voice inflection. For example, in Mandarin, "mother" is "ma" that is high and level. "Horse" is "ma" that starts fairly high, dips very low, and then goes back up again. Same word, different meaning, depending on tone.

Take the first step

Want to give your child advantages that will last a lifetime? Enroll in an introductory trial class today. Creativity will soar and you'll be amazed just how much language impacts early childhood development.

Topics: parenting, language