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Research Proves that Being Multilingual is Better
By Huda Metti :: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 :: 141890 Views :: Article Rating :: Living & Lifestyle, Career & Education, Community & Culture, Science & Technology

Chaldeans who are bilingual or Multilingual have an advantage over the rest of us, and not just in terms of communication skills. The multilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills, according to new research.

According to the 2002 U.S. Census, more than 7.5 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 (about 14 %) speak a language other than English at home and the number of bilingual speakers is expected to increase in the coming years.

Most children have the capacity and facility to learn two or more languages. Research suggests there are advantages to being bilingual, such as, linguistic and metalinguistic abilities and cognitive flexibility, such as, concept formation, divergent thinking and general reasoning and verbal abilities.

Researchers from the Department of Imaging Neuroscience and experts from the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome researched brain densities of bilingual people. They recruited 25 people who speak one language, 25 who learned a second European language before age 5, and 33 who became bilingual between ages 10 and 15. 

All the participants spoke English as their primary language. Those who had learned a second language later in life had practiced it regularly for at least five years.

The researchers discovered that bilingual brains do better. 

The brain has two types of tissue visible to the naked eye, termed gray and white matter. Gray matter makes up the bulk of nerve cells within the brain. Studies have shown an association with gray matter density (or volume and intellect), especially in areas of language, memory, and attention.

Brain imaging showed that bilingual speakers had denser gray matter compared with monolingual participants.

The difference was especially significant in the brain's left side -- an area known to control language and communication skills. The right hemisphere of bilingual speakers also showed a similar trend.

The researchers say that although language is thought to be mediated by functional changes in the brain, they show that being bilingual structurally changes the brain. Their study shows the effect was strongest in people who had learned a second language before age 5.

In a second test, the researchers studied 22 native Italian speakers who had learned English as a second language between ages 2 and 34.

Those who had learned English at a young age had greater proficiency in reading, writing, talking, and understanding English speech.

As in the first test, increases in gray matter density in the brain's left region were linked to age at which a person became bilingual. The earliest second language learners had the densest gray matter in that part of the brain.

Of course, while it might seem easier to pick up a second language as a child, it's still possible to do so as an adult.

The research suggests that the structure of the human brain is altered by the experience of acquiring a second language.  The full write-up of the research is featured in the October issue of the journal Nature.

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.