The Bilingual Advantage

The Impact of Language Learning on Mind & Brain

Position Paper on the Value and Future of Language Education

Becoming streetwise in the digital world – realizing global competences

Advances in technology continue to reveal scientific understanding of the positive impact on mind and brain for those who know more than one language.

A 2020 update of a landmark meta-study on neuroscientific insights into the value of languages originally produced for the European Commission, has been published in Finland. The findings directly relate to developing global competences so that young people can thrive in an interconnected world (OECD PISA).

The Impact of Language Learning on Mind and Brain reveals six key advantages for people who use more than one language.

The advantages relate to our neural architecture and memory, how we think, learn, understand other people, solve problems, and safely navigate the information-rich digital world.

This paper provides a summary of the key issues involved in understanding success drivers for languages in education. It argues that knowledge of more than one language, even if partial, can provide people with advantages not accessible to monolinguals.


  • Understanding why language teaching fails, and how it succeeds
  • Six profound advantages for people who think in more than one language which include conceptual expansion, cognitive flexibility and adaptability, problem-solving skills, critical thinking, interpersonal communication skills, and the capacity to learn.
  • Systems thinking as a core global competence for education in the 21st Century
Open Report


Marsh D., Díaz-Pérez, W., Frigols Martín, M.J., Langé, G., Pavón Vázquez, V., Trindade, C. (2020) The Bilingual Advantage: The Impact of Language Learning on Mind & Brain. Jyväskylä: EduCluster Finland, University of Jyväskylä Group