Multilingualism: A Phenomenon Varying on Domain - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1538 Words
Date:  2023-01-31


A multilingual individual refers to someone who speaks and understands two or more languages. One's initial exposure to different languages might begin during their childhood stage or even later in life. However, the multilingual phenomenon is hardly substantiated since it usually varies based on the domain. For instance, a multilingual person might have a more excellent aptitude for family-related terms in a particular language, and work-related phrases in another language. Consequently, the multilingual phenomenon has been linked to multiple cognitive benefits. It has a significant influence on executive functions. Scientists suggest that multilingual speakers have a substantial advantage over monolinguals in most cognitive development circumstances. However, the age-related benefits seem to exemplify protective impacts against cognitive decline in adulthood. Research has illustrated that cognitive advantages associated with the multilingual phenomena have an additive effect rather than a subtractive outcome. Therefore, being a multilingual speaker enhances one's cognitive functioning in inhibitory control, perception, working memory, and attentional control.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Executive Function

Executive function depicts high-level cognitive development that facilitates goal-oriented tasks, for instance, task switching, mental flexibility, and problem-solving. Chibaka (2018), asserts that research reveals a correlation between alterations and multilingualism that stimulates positive cognitive effects in the brain. Studies on cognitive control, ageing, and multilingualism indicate that multilingual and monolingual speakers have varying capabilities in executing cognitive functions in their minds. Based on the research, multilingual speakers have a relatively higher executive control compared to their monolingual colleagues. Demographic and socio-economic analyses show a link between higher cognitive functioning skills and executive control demands that compel the brain to learn various languages. A representative evaluation sample on children aged between 5 to 17 years reveals a critical connection between academic achievement and executive function (Bellandi, Giovannetti & Weingart, 2018). The assessment suggests that executive function is crucial for academic success in children and adolescents. Additionally, similar executive function results were obtained among older adults. Hence, the inhibitory processes among adults who have been multilingual speakers since childhood have better-controlled functioning skills than their monolingual peers.

Cognitive Analysis

The Inhibitory Control Model provides a comprehensive perspective on the probable cognitive advantages associated with the multilingual phenomena. According to Bhatia (2017), the model offers an in-depth analysis of a multilingual speaker's persistent need to overlook one langue when using another. A specific task might oblige one to undermine their source of distraction, hence, nurturing their inhibitory control application when multitasking. The allegation has been reinforced a study of bimodal multilingual and unimodal multilingual persons. Since bimodal multilingual speakers can express their views in several languages simultaneously, they need less inhibition. Bimodal multilingual persons barely switch languages because they use at least two languages concurrently rather than switching completely from one language to another. The impacts of language-switching reveal various aspects of executive control that influence the inhibition control effects. Research has shown that the multilingual speaker's ability to selectively address critical conceptual elements of a stimulus may originate from one's continuous need to inhibit opposing terms in their languages for a similar phrase in the most appropriate language. Multilingual individuals have various representations in every language for comparable ideas. As a result, multilingual speakers should be aware of the most appropriate word and language to use in a specific context. Such contextual analysis illustrates that a multilingual person has cognitive control advantage. The cognitive control advantage empowers them to selectively switch between languages to choose suitable phrases to convey relevant information and inhibit irrelevant details (Murray & Zhang, 2005). Therefore, multilingual speaker's use different languages to enable them to make better decisions on the best approach to use to respond to a particular situation using the most relevant and appropriate words.

Language Use

Semantic Development

Researchers prefer to analyze multilingualism and children language to establish a probable association between multilingualism and language use. Most of the children have 'loose connections' between the structure and meaning of words due to their frequent multilingual substitutions with terminologies. The 'loose connections' claim is common in the children's well-rehearsed rhymes and daily speech. According to Bellandi et al. (2018), multilingual children have greater language use flexibility their monolingual peers. For that reason, the 'loose connection' in the structure and meaning of words might result from enhanced mental flexibility or abstract thinking associated with multilingual children.

Werner Leopold's evaluation provides comprehensive observations on cognitive development and multilingualism. For instance, experimental trials between two groups of multilingual and monolingual children aged 4 to 6 and 6 to 9 show the connection between semantic development and multilingualism (Donnelly, Brooks & Homer, 2019). In the study, the participants were issued with tasks that aim at confirming whether the children show a phonetic or semantic preference when classifying words. Besides, scientists utilize Lanco-Warroll's approach to differentiate between the semantic and phonetic choices among multilingual and monolingual children. From the cognitive development evaluation, about 54% of the young, multilingual children always display a semantic preference than their monolingual colleagues (Donnelly et al., 2019). Contrary, among monolingual children, semantic choice increases with age. Hence, multilingual children are likely to attain their semantic development stage within 2 to 3 years compared to their monolingual counterparts. Multilingualism improves linguistic and semantic development among children.

Language Awareness and Reading Ability

Improved language awareness is one of the primary benefits of being a multilingual speaker. A child learning different languages whose rules and structures are relatively different is compelled to think cognitively to cater to the demanding linguistic policies. For example, a multilingual child will have to foster cognitive functioning skills to enable them to use different grammatical structures to distinguish the arbitrariness of terms for specific objects. The linguistic rules are quite strenuous for children to learn; however, they have boosted their understanding of language structure and increased their awareness of meaning (Murray & Zhang, 2005). Most multilingual speakers have experienced strenuous development stages when acquiring their metalinguistic awareness.

Language awareness and structure influence the correlation between written and spoken language that determines one's reading ability. The connection signifies the representational principle that stipulates the relation between written and spoken multilingualism. Moreover, the principle defines the link between reading ability and multilingualism among children (Chibaka, 2018). It relies on the 'Moving Word Task' to analyze the children's proficiency in matching written words to objects inscribed on a card. Accurate matching suggests that the children can recognize the written terms as representations of particular words. Roughly 80% of the of multilingual children had correct 'Moving Word Task' results while a comparable percentage was attained by monolingual children who were at least one year older than the multilingual children being assessed (Donnelly et al., 2019). Multilingual children have a comprehensive understanding of the representational principle compared to their monolingual peers due to their advanced literacy acquisition preparation. Therefore, multilingual speakers seem to nurture better reading ability skills than monolingual persons.

Cognitive Development and Old Age

In the past, scientists have been interested in establishing the correlation between age-related cognitive decline and multilingualism. Bellandi et al. (2018), alleges that the general decline in attention control noticed among older adults has reduced significantly among multilingual individuals. The findings indicate that the multilingualism phenomenon has a protective effect against cognitive ageing. Additionally, elderly multilingual speakers have shown exceptional ability to switch between tasks, resolve opposing cognitive options, and ignore irrelevant information. As a result, multilingualism might be one of the primary factors that enhance older adults' willingness to participate in stimulating mental and physical activities. Their participation in stimulating activities improves the elderly adults' health and prevents dementia. Multilingualism does not directly prevent a person from suffering from dementia, but it facilitates functional cognition for a lengthy period (Bhatia, 2017). Multilingualism delays the onset of dementia symptoms in older adults with the condition. The findings suggest that speaking several languages safeguards against dementia since parts of the brain that stimulate cognitive control. It benefits a multilingual speaker by promoting cognitive functioning in old age. Therefore, multilingualism helps in protecting against cognitive decline.

Research has demonstrated that cognitive advantages associated with the multilingualism have an additive effect rather than a subtractive outcome. The multilingualism phenomenon enhances one's cognitive functioning in inhibitory control, perception, working memory, and attentional control. The multilingual speakers utilize different languages to able to make better decisions on the best approach to use to respond to a particular situation using the most appropriate words. The 'loose connection' in the structure and meaning of words might result from enhanced mental flexibility or abstract thinking associated with multilingual children. Multilingualism improves linguistic and semantic development among children. Most multilingual speakers undergo a strenuous development stage to gain their metalinguistic awareness. Linguistic knowledge has empowered multilingual speakers to develop better reading skills than their monolingual peers. Cognitive control has helped multilingual speakers to improve their cognitive functioning in old age.


Bellandi, A., Giovannetti, E., & Weingart, A. (2018). Multilingual and multiword phenomena in a lemon old Occitan medico-botanical Lexicon. Information, 9(3), 52. doi: 10.3390/info9030052

Bhatia, T. (2017). Bilingualism and multilingualism from a socio-psychological perspective. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.82

Chibaka, E. (2018). Advantages of bilingualism and multilingualism: Multidimensional research findings. Multilingualism and Bilingualism, 15-31. doi: 10.5772/intechopen.74625

Donnelly, S., Brooks, P., & Homer, B. (2019). Is there a bilingual advantage on interference-control tasks? A multiverse meta-analysis of global reaction time and interference cost. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. doi: 10.3758/s13423-019-01567-z

Murray, F., & Zhang, Y. (2005). The role of necessity in cognitive development. Cognitive Developmen...

Cite this page

Multilingualism: A Phenomenon Varying on Domain - Research Paper. (2023, Jan 31). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism