The Bilingual Brain | Albert Costa

Summary of: The Bilingual Brain: And What It Tells Us about the Science of Language
By: Albert Costa


Welcome to the world of ‘The Bilingual Brain,’ where renowned author and researcher Albert Costa explores the fascinating science of language acquisition, bilingualism, and how languages shape the human brain. Accompanied by Costa’s wit and engaging storytelling, learn about intriguing findings in cognitive neuropsychology and their impact on individual communication. Dive into the amazing process of how babies learn languages, the power of social interaction in language learning, and the complex ways bilingual speakers juggle two languages simultaneously. This book summary covers incredible insights from language research and offers an accessible journey through the human mind’s linguistic capabilities.

Insights on Bilingualism

Albert Costa, a renowned research professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, delves into the fascinating topic of language and cognitive function in bilingualism. His book offers surprising insights backed by two decades of research in neuropsychology. Costa combines his laboratory findings with real-world examples from everyday life, sports, politics, and TV programs in a style that is both informal and witty. Critics praise Costa’s work for its scientific spirit, curiosity, and vast knowledge. Discover the remarkable discoveries of bilingualism through Costa’s insightful perspective.

Unlocking the Secrets of Infant Language Learning

Babies as young as six months old show an impressive understanding of language, with bilingual infants demonstrating an ability to differentiate between the “phonological” rules that govern each language. In his book, Costa argues that social interaction is crucial for infants to become bilingual, and passive exposure to different languages through media isn’t enough. Parents looking to teach their child a new language should spend time interacting with them in that language, rather than relying on educational TV or videos.

The Challenges of Language Learning

Achieving fluency in a new language can be difficult due to linguistic control, according to Costa. Bilingual speakers must juggle their languages and avoid interference from their first language. Code-switching during conversation is intentional and follows grammatical rules. Interestingly, it takes longer to switch to a dominant language than a non-dominant one, as the brain must work hard to suppress the dominant language and recover from inhibition when switching. Costa’s insights shed light on the complexities of language learning.

Bilingual Brains

Bilingual speakers exhibit slower speech production as they search for words in two languages. They also tend to make more “tip-of-the-tongue” errors. However, there is no evidence that bilingual speakers are more intelligent than monolinguals, nor is there a significant difference in their cognitive abilities. Interestingly, educated speakers generally have a vocabulary of 35,000 words, but only use around 1,000 on a daily basis.

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