In the world, there are 71 million Korean speakers. This figure includes those who speak the language as either their first or second language. According to a survey, the British are the worst at learning new languages. But can British rising star Dua Lipa speak Korean?
Although Dua Lipa is bilingual, it’s thought that she cannot speak Korean. It is not clear if she ever learned how to speak Korean, but what’s known is that she spoke Albanian at home when she was younger, but she wasn’t able to read or write in this language. Watch Dua Lipa singing live in Korea below.
43% of the world’s population is bilingual, while 40% of the world’s population is monolingual, so they can only fluently speak one language. In the United States, the percentage of people who are bilingual stands at just 20%. Let’s talk about bilingualism in the United States and its benefits.
What is bilingualism?
In simple terms, bilingualism is where someone is able to use or speak two languages fluently. You are typically classed as bilingual if you have grown up in a family where you speak another language that’s different from the language of the country you live in.
The history of bilingualism in the United States
Bilingualism in the United States dates back to as early as 1607, where America saw its first colonists enter their shores.
It was not until 1694 when education in the United States was taught in the colonists’ mother tongue of German. As America expanded, bilingual education was standard wherever minority groups had power.
By the mid-1800s, many American states had laws that authorized bilingual education. At this time, education was being delivered in languages like German, Dutch, Czech, Spanish, Norwegian, and French, to name a few.
The change came during World War I when schools were encouraged to replace foreign languages with English, and this occurred in line with a rise in nativism. By 1923, a total of 34 states had passed laws that made English the mandatory language in public schools.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, America’s bilingual population was on the rise again due to an influx of immigrants coming into the country. As a result, America’s population diversified once more, and bilingual education programs became more common.
What are the benefits of bilingualism?
Research has proven that bilingualism can have a variety of cognitive benefits, especially on children. A study published in 1962 revealed that bilingual children tend to perform better intellectually in verbal and nonverbal tasks when compared with their monolingual peers.
On top of this, another study that was conducted in 2011 revealed that bilingual children are faster and more accurate in tasks requiring skills in executive function compared with their monolingual peers.
In the study, researchers measured the bilingual children’s cognitive ability using a cognitive assessment model known as ANT, or attention network task, and compared their scores with three groups of monolingual children. The findings showed that although Korean monolinguals were accurate, their response times were longer those who were bilingual.
Since bilingual people’s brains are continually exercising control when speaking, this means that they can concentrate better and have improved multitasking abilities because their brain is always working to find the correct words to use in speech.
The brain’s form is in a state of constant change, which is often referred to as ‘neuroplasticity.’ This is especially the case for children, and it explains why children are easily able to pick up new languages when they are young because their brain has not been sculpted yet.
In his book, The Bilingual Brain, Albert Costa explores the effects of bilingualism on children’s brains. Costa shows how newborns are effectively able to differentiate between native languages and non-native ones and he shows that bilingual children are constantly utilizing and improving their brain’s executive functions. You can buy the book here.