Bilingualism refers to a phenomenon that involves a person’s ability to understand and speak at least two languages. A person develops such an ability in his/her childhood while having an exposure to two different languages. Such cases include parents speaking distinct languages or a child learning native language from parents (say German) and studying in a school that promotes another language (say English). Today, more than fifty percent people across the world are bilingual (speak two languages). Being bilingual doesn’t mean that a person speaks both languages with same fluency and understanding. The proficiency in a language differs from person to person. Though expertise considers a bilingual an intellectual, cognitive issues are not uncommon in them.
Negative effects of bilingualism:
The impact of bilingualism is huge in a developing brain (a child or teenager).
Researchers who tested both bilingual and monolingual students concluded that bilinguals have lower intelligence. Bilingualism weakens educational progress and leads to lower learning ability. A child develops a superficial mental attitude and starts to give preference to each language in different circumstances. For example, if a child transfers to a French-medium school from English-medium school, he would find difficulty in engaging in academic activities even though he understands both the languages. Recent reports showed poor scores achieved by bilinguals in vocabulary, spelling, and geography, as compared to monolinguals.
Bilingualism engenders poor meta-cognitive processing. A bilingual person finds difficulty in making decisions and scores low in aptitude and reasoning. Studies conclude that bilinguals have low confidence in their decisions as compared to monolinguals. While monolinguals easily differentiate between two things, bilinguals stay confused and neutral.
Mixing of language is a routine to bilinguals. The brain of a bilingual advance with time and it doesn’t even realize the language switching. While mixing two languages, a person may not be able to express his/her views and opinions. Studies say most bilinguals comfortably express their emotions in a native language and perform academic verbal activities in another language. Due to this, people find them confused and un-understandable.
Bilingualism affects a person’s interests and initiatives. It impacts the relationship with family and friends. Since childhood, a child learns to speak the distinct language in different circumstances. When a child grows, he/she find difficulty in socializing in an interchanged circumstances. For example, a child (Chinese-English bilingual) studied in an English-medium school may face hardship in establishing a relationship with colleagues in a Chinese-medium college.
Poor identity development
A bilingual develops a conflicting personality. At times, understanding two languages make a person hybrid or confluence of two distinct culture. While living in one community, a bilingual stays disconnected internally to one culture which leads to the emergence of two distinct personalities.
Today, globalization and marriages have enhanced the emergence of bilingualism, which has become a reality. According to some studies, bilingualism limits the intellectual, educational, and emotional development, while some other provide contradictory statements. Though bilingualism eases the interaction with different culture and communities, a person can’t ignore its impact on family relationships and mental processing. An excessive awareness and knowledge of bilingualism can help in diminishing its negative impact.