The advantages of having a bilingual brain.

     Triangle Speech Services is the private, professional practice of Judith L. Bergman, a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) who specializes in foreign accent and regional dialect modification.  I offer customized, individual tutorials to corporate-sponsored and self-enrolled individuals who speak English fluently but with moderate to severe accents that create challenges and frustrations in the workplace.
     I've recently returned from a week in "French" Canada, a tour that included four days in Montreal Vieux (Old Montreal) and three days in Quebec City, the capital of Quebec Province and the "birthplace" of French America. What was really amazing was that everyone's English as well as their French, and I do mean everyone including a hotel maintenance person and the taxi drivers, was really good with very little accent, if at all.This includes people brought up in French speaking households.
Citizens spoke to each other rapid-fire (to my ears) Canadian French of which I could understand very, very little.  The lady who checked me in a day early at my hotel in Old Montreal was a native of Russia, but also fluent in French and English!!!   
   AND the Canadians were so gracious in tolerating my "Parisian French" after I began with, "Your English is so much better than my French." (A true statement.)
   I discovered that since the 1960's the official educational policy has been 100% immersion in French for 378,000 "Anglophones"  in school in the Province of Quebec starting as young as preschool with all teaching and conversation in French, gradually reducing to 80% and then, by high school to 50%.
   Government policy has all road signs in French, all printed matter first in French and then in smaller font, in English.  Only our two official guides spoke English with pronounced French accents.  
The Benefits of A Bilingual Brain
Mia Nacamulli produced a fascinating video about the benefits of a bilingual brain.  These benefits include an enhanced ability to concentrate and a better working memory in adults, especially those who became bilingual at an early age. In an article in Brain Facts it was noted that brains scans show such prominent and predictable neural activity that this becomes a marker of bilingualism.  A study in the journal Science summarized in Time Magazine on July 18, 2007, reported that the bilingual brain is "nimbler, quicker, better able to resolve ambiguities (and) resolve conflicts." In addition to increased neural activity ("firing"), scientists have noted structural changes or "neural plasticity" with denser "gray matter" and reorganization ( Nature, reported online 13 October 2004.)
  Why are we writing about this? All of our clients are --at least--bilingual and most have an impressive degree of fluency in English. However, they often lack confidence in their spoken English because of repeated experiences of not being understood in meetings and, especially, in phone consultations with their company's customers and clients.  Usually they did not have the advantages of early English language immersion in preschool or elementary school. BUT we want to remind our readers who may speak accented English, that THEY are the linguistically gifted ones and have the advantages of a 'bilingual brain."
  We invite you to visit us by clicking on Triangle Speech Services .  Our goal is always to provide information, inspiration, and encouragement since these are essential components of any successful learning experience.
   If you are seriously considering enrolling yourself or an employee in an individual tutorial with us or simply want to talk to us about our programs, please contact us through the contact page of our web site, and we hope you also take the time to read the text and look at the videos.
Judith L. Bergman M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist and Corporate Speech Trainer
Triangle Speech Services