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Research Proves that Being Multilingual is Better
By Huda Metti :: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 :: 85594 Views :: Living & Lifestyle, Career & Education, Community & Culture, Science & Technology

Chaldeans who are bilingual or Multilingual have an advantage over the rest of us, and not just in terms of communication skills. The multilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills, according to new research.

According to the 2002 U.S. Census, more than 7.5 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 (about 14 %) speak a language other than English at home and the number of bilingual speakers is expected to increase in the coming years.

Most children have the capacity and facility to learn two or more languages. Research suggests there are advantages to being bilingual, such as, linguistic and metalinguistic abilities and cognitive flexibility, such as, concept formation, divergent thinking and general reasoning and verbal abilities.

Researchers from the Department of Imaging Neuroscience and experts from the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome researched brain densities of bilingual people. They recruited 25 people who speak one language, 25 who learned a second European language before age 5, and 33 who became bilingual between ages 10 and 15. 

All the participants spoke English as their primary language. Those who had learned a second language later in life had practiced it regularly for at least five years.

The researchers discovered that bilingual brains do better. 

The brain has two types of tissue visible to the naked eye, termed gray and white matter. Gray matter makes up the bulk of nerve cells within the brain. Studies have shown an association with gray matter density (or volume and intellect), especially in areas of language, memory, and attention.

Brain imaging showed that bilingual speakers had denser gray matter compared with monolingual participants.

The difference was especially significant in the brain's left side -- an area known to control language and communication skills. The right hemisphere of bilingual speakers also showed a similar trend.

The researchers say that although language is thought to be mediated by functional changes in the brain, they show that being bilingual structurally changes the brain. Their study shows the effect was strongest in people who had learned a second language before age 5.

In a second test, the researchers studied 22 native Italian speakers who had learned English as a second language between ages 2 and 34.

Those who had learned English at a young age had greater proficiency in reading, writing, talking, and understanding English speech.

As in the first test, increases in gray matter density in the brain's left region were linked to age at which a person became bilingual. The earliest second language learners had the densest gray matter in that part of the brain.

Of course, while it might seem easier to pick up a second language as a child, it's still possible to do so as an adult.

The research suggests that the structure of the human brain is altered by the experience of acquiring a second language.  The full write-up of the research is featured in the October issue of the journal Nature.

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Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA

 

Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.