Is a Bilingual Education Good for the Brain?

I wish I were fluent in another language.  I learned some French in junior high but didn't continue studying it in high school.  I know I missed out on something, and not just being able to carry on a conversation during a trip to Paris.

As it turns out, learning a second language can actually be a superfood for the brain and lead to better performance in school, according to a Newsweek report. "Being able to speak more than one language at a high level, and on a regular basis, is like constantly flexing a muscle in your brain, and it carries over into all kinds of skills beyond those of actually speaking a language,” Newsweek's Casey Schwartz said on MSNBC.

Watch the video below to learn how bilingualism can boost early brain development. 

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Bilingualism is just one of the many topics MSNBC tackled in its education special Making the Grade, a two-hour live town hall hosted by MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall and The Grio correspondent Jeff Johnson.

Bilingual education is growing in popularity in the U.S. with 440 elementary schools now offering a curriculum in two languages -- that’s up from virtually zero in 1970, according to Schwartz. You're probably not surprised to learn that the most popular language taught in bilingual schools is Spanish, but the next most popular?  Mandarin, followed by French.

It may be too late for me but not for my young children.  Forget gymnastics and soccer this fall -- how about Spanish or Mandarin?

Kelly Wallace is Chief Correspondent of iVillage. Follow her on Twitter: @kellywallacetv

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