Does being bilingual mean you see the world in a different way?

The answer is yes, according to a new study at Newcastle University, England.

Bilingual people think differently to monolingual people, according to researchers, with language use making the difference rather than proficiency. The study looked at Japanese and English speakers and tested their colour perception – useful because of the variation in ways different languages place colours on the spectrum. In Japanese there are additional ways of describing light blue (mizuiro) and dark blue (ao) that English does not have. Results found that bilingual Japanese-English speakers identified colours differently than single language speakers, depending on which language they used more often.

“As well as learning vocabulary and grammar you’re also unconsciously learning a whole new way of seeing the world,” said Dr Athanasopoulos. “There’s an inextricable link between language, culture and cognition.

“If you’re learning language in a classroom you are trying to achieve something specific, but when you’re immersed in the culture and speaking it, you’re thinking in a completely different way.” (Source: Science Daily)

Dr Athanasopoulos says this can also give you an edge when dealing with international business clients as it gives you an insight into their culture and how they think.