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Benefits of Bilingualism

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Benefits of BilingualismBenefits of Bilingualism is a lesson that provides you with the opportunity to consider to what extent language and culture are part of who we are and can language limit the way we think. This lesson is centred around the theme of Identities from the IB Language B curriculum which provides students with an opportunity to discover their interests, values, belief and culture. In this lesson, we will practice our listening and reading skills by learning about what bilingualism means to you.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Exercise 4Word ListExtension
Watch a clip about the claims that the language of Piraha has no words for specific numbers. Instead of “one, two, three” it’s a few, some, and many. What other differences do they have?

Click here to reveal the answer
1. Colours
2. Past Tense
3. Future Tense

You will watch a video discussing the relationship between language and culture  Answer the questions in the video.

Click here to view transcript and answers
When we talk about language, we often dig down to universal categories like nouns and verbs, consonants and vowels, phrases and sentences. We end up with these cross-language concepts that individual languages are built on almost as if the colourful diversity found in the world’s languages is just icing on the strong unity of the linguistic cake and language is grounded in our way of thinking and processing information which is itself universal among humans. So languages and cultures are superficial, but language and cognition run deep. But this isn’t the only way to look at language. What if the language we are brought up to speak actually relates to the way we look at reality?

From this perspective, a language is a particular way of conceptualizing the world and has close ties to culture. In the 1930s, Benjamin Lee Whorf talked about language this way. He argued that different languages represent different ways of thinking about the world around us. This view has come to be called linguistic relativity.

Exploring the grammar of the Hopi language, he concluded that the Hopi have an entirely different concept of the time than European languages do and that the European concepts of “time” and “matter” are actually conditioned by language itself.

One practical consequence of linguistic relativity: direct translation between languages isn’t always possible. Since Hopi and English aren’t simply ways of expressing the same thing in different words, you can’t actually preserve thoughts or viewpoints when you translate between them. In its strongest expression, linguistic relativity – the idea that viewpoints vary from language to language – relies on linguistic determinism – the idea that language determines thought.

In other words, how people think doesn’t just vary depending on their language but is actually grounded in – determined by – the specific language of their community. Linguistic relativity has been abandoned and criticized over the decades with critics aiming to show that perception and cognition are universal, not tied to language and culture, but some psychologists and anthropologists continue to argue that differences in a language’s structure and words may play a role in determining how we think.

Experiments on how speakers of different languages approach non-linguistic tasks continue to spark this debate. Thank you for joining me on this quick tour of linguistic relativity and linguistic determinism.

1. nouns. verbs, consonants, vowels, phrases, sentences
2. b
3. Linguistic relativity
4. Hopi language and concepts of time
5. translation, thoughts, viewpoints

Read the text about some of the benefits of bilingualism.

Adapted from the joys and benefits of bilingualism by Tobias Jones.

Read the summary of text from Exercise 3.

Here are the words and phrases covered in this lesson about the benefits of bilingualism:

  • abandoned
  • benefits of bilingualism
  • consequence
  • direct translation
  • eloquent
  • hindrance
  • identities
  • intelligible
  • impede
  • linguistic determinism
  • linguistic relativity
  • maintenance
  • melancholic
  • non-linguistic
  • personalities
  • perspective
  • subtly
  • surreal
  • universal categories
  • unsettling
  • vulnerable
  1. Prepare a talk to give to parents of new students at your school on the benefits of speaking another language or by maintaining students’ mother-tongue languages at home. Here is an example of how to write a speech.
  2. Write a proposal to the School Principal suggesting ways the school might better support students’ mother tongue. Here is a sample template.
  • Be directed at the Principal (audience)
  • Include formal language (register)
  • Address the goals of the proposal with a title
  • Use clear organization through the use of subheadings.
We add activities and exercises regularly on various themes, so why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to discover their interests, values, belief and culture.

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This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the sciences, technology and creativity.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to look at the challenges and opportunities faced by individuals and communities in the modern world.

Here you will find exercise to practice for the different sections of IB English B examination for either the Standard (SL) or Higher Level (HL) papers.
Learning English requires not just a good vocabulary, but a strong foundation of English grammar to communicate effectively.

Here are some grammar exercise which give you the practice to be confident in communicating in English at this advanced level.

Word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and a knack for spelling, but the ability to think logically and strategically.
Levels Links:
 This free material is for students at an advanced level of English. This will probably be suitable for students in their fifth or sixth year of English studies. We add exercises on grammar and vocabulary as well as whole text activities on a regular basis. In addition, we provide test practise activities for students who are preparing for the C1 Advanced which is part of the Cambridge Assessment English Main Suite as well as the English Language B for the IB Diploma. The material will also support students studying for the Cambridge Advanced courses.

We also provide free resources across the full range of levels to provide the tools to communicate in English well.

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