Canada has officially been bilingual since the Constitution Act in 1867 (Santrock et al., 284). Since this act researchers have found many advantages of bilingualism on cognitive development. Bilingualism enhances mental flexibility such as divergent thinking, task-switching efficiency, and promotes advanced vocabulary. Bilingual children have superior meta-linguistic awareness; consequently, they are more aware of the structure of language and its nature. Bilinguals are more efficient at attention control; they focus on important tasks and information with ease. French courses should be mandatory for all Canadian students since bilingualism benefits meta-linguistic awareness, mental flexibility, and control of attention.
Mental flexibility is superior in bilingual children since learning two language forces their minds to process two language systems at one time. Bilingualism promotes divergent (a divergent thinker is someone who thinks of many possible solutions to a problem) and creative thinking (Baker, 144-145). This increase of creative thinking gives a wider variety of associations (Baker, 145-146). Bilingualism is also associated with increased meta-cognitive flexibility and better performance on certain perpetual tasks, such as recognizing a perpetual object “embedded” in a visual background or classification tasks (Marian, et al.,1). Their divergent thinking helps relevant aspects of a problem may become more salient to bilingual children since their experiences with two language systems and cultures enable them to incorporate different perspectives to the solution (Bialystok, 2001 pg. 204). Bilingualism promotes divergent thinking that is caused by greater cognitive flexibility.
Bilinguals have greater cognitive flexibility compared to monolingual children. Bilingual individuals have the ability to switch between different tasks and perform well in tasks that include conflicting or misleading cues (Millett, pg. 25). Furthermore, switching linguistic codes while performing cognitive tasks gives bilingual children more flexibility (Hakuta, et al., 296). However, the amount of practice that the bilingual individual does in switching back and forth between the two languages can impact both language proficiency and cognitive flexibility (Millett, et al., 32). Switching between two language codes enhances cognitive flexibility, which helps children develop a more profound vocabulary.
Bilinguals have a more profound vocabulary as well as a superior knowledge of the concept of words. Bilingual children have better manipulation for different types of words; they are significantly more successful than monolingual children with double morpheme words (Bialystok, 2001 pg. 149). Since de Sassure, linguistics has emphasized the established connection between the sounds or letters that make up a word and its meaning. This arbitrariness comes with greater ease to bilinguals (Cook, 13-14). To prove this fact Ellen Bialystok stated “the nature of the...