The NYTimes today has a story about the educational trend towards bilingual education in the U.S.
The article is all about the the obvious practical benefits -- interacting with more people in our shrinking world. Not one word in the story mentions the extraordinary cognitive benefits that have been documented.
In François Grosjean's book, Life With Two Languages, Grosjean shows that bilinguals can reach a stage in semantic development 2 or 3 years earlier than monoligual peers. (Thanks to Sharone Bergner).
In Rafael M. Diaz's article, "Thought and Two Languages: The Impact of Bilingualism on Cognitive Development," Diaz concludes that bilingual students learn greater cognitive flexbility and improved powers of concept formation. (Thanks to David Rider of Xavier University in Louisiana).
According to behavioral psychologist Dean Keith Simonton: "Research has shown that intensive exposure to two or more different languages helps build the cognitive basis for creativity. After all, concepts will be coded in multiple ways, enriching the associative interconnections among various ideas. The process here is not unlike the possible role of hybridization in the generation of new biological species."