In recent years, evidence shows that, in addition to offering a wider range of salon clients, being bilingual actually makes you smarter, while improving cognitive skills and warding off dementia. How cool is that, gente?
This certainly contrasts with immigrants experience in the 20th century. Many of us recall not speaking Italiano or Español for fear of discrimination, plus educators viewed use of a second language as interfering with the learning process. I frequently had my mouth taped because I spoke Spanish in grammar school.
Now, evidence from a number of studies (nytimes.com/03/18/12) suggests bilingualism improves the brain’s so-called executive function that directs the attention processes we use for planning, problem solving and performing various other mentally demanding tasks like ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions or your client’s color formula.
Good news for me is that bilingualism’s benefits extend to old age. In a recent study of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals, scientists led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism — measured through a comparative evaluation of proficiency in each language — were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset. Here are a few more benefits to speaking Spanish in America today:
*Easier to get a job
*Your children will speak Spanish: 2050 US is largest Spanish speaking country
*Helps your English: you will revisit words that have fallen out of use in English
*It’s not hard to learn: no tone or high accent required, all short vowels.
*Communicate and attract Latino clients and friends.
*Understand Pitbull’s songs? Ok, this one is a long shot.
I can teach you to read Spanish in about five minutes, you won’t know what you are reading, but you can read it: all vowels are short and you pronounce every letter except “h” which is silent. Lose the fear of speaking Spanish, we Latinos think it’s charming to see you try. Por supuesto.
Carlos Valenzuela is an educational & business beauty consultant, aspeaker and coach on personal development and author of i-Fabulous Life Skills.
For additional insights visit www.i-fabulous.com