Bilingual brains: variety makes you mentally fit - PAU inglés 2015

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Bilingual brains: variety makes you mentally fitFor years, researchers in bilingualism have reported findings about how bilingualism affects the brain. Two of the most memorable involve “executive control” and delayed dementia. With the first, bilinguals have shown that  they are better able to focus on demanding mental tasks despite distractions. In other studies, it has been estimated that bilinguals see the initial stages of dementia, on average, about five years later than monolinguals do.
This  week  comes  new  evidence.  Researchers  led  by  Roberto  Filippi  of  Anglia  Ruskin University  have  found  that  young  bilingual  pupils  did  a  better  job  answering  tricky  questions with a noisy voice in the background than a monolingual group. The researchers in this line of inquiry  tend  to  share a  common  hypothesis:  that  being  bilingual  is  a  kind  of  constant mental exercise. With two languages in the mind, every time a thing is named, an alternative must be suppressed.  Every  time  a  sentence  is  constructed,  the  other  way  of  constructing  it  must  be suppressed.
Blocking  out  distracting  information  is  exactly  what  researchers  find  that  bilinguals  do  well. And as  for  dementia,  the  effect  seems  to  be  a  kind of  analogue  to  physical  activity  over  the course of a lifetime keeping a body fit. Mental exercise keeps the brain fit, and bilingualism is just that kind of exercise.
Why  bilinguals  seem  to  do  better  in  quite  a  few  differently  designed  studies  does,  however, need  more  research.  Besides,  some  parents  still  think  that  bilingualism  might  harm  a  child’s development.
Adapted from The Economist, 17th October, 2014

Part A. Reading Comprehension


I. Answer  the  following  questions  using  your  own  words but  taking  into  account the information in the text. (2 points: 1 point each)
a. What have bilinguals shown regarding “executive control”? (PAR 1)
b. What did Filippi and other colleagues find?  (PAR 2)


II. Are  the  following  statements  true  (T)  or  false  (F)? Identify  the  part  of  the  text that supports your answer by copying the exact passage on the answer sheet. (1.5 points: 0.5 each)
a. Bilingualism may delay mental illnesses. T

b. Bilingualism keeps the brain fit. T

c. Parents always think that bilingualism may influence their children’s development. F


III. Find a synonym for each of the four definitions below from these six options. (1 point: 0.25 each)
dementia       average       evidence        tricky         inquiry      hypothesis


IV. Choose a, b, or c, in each question below. Only one choice is correct. (1.5 points: 0.5 each)
1. Researchers...

2. The effect of bilingualism on dementia is...

3. More research is needed...


Part B. Composition 

In your opinion, what are the advantages of multilingual education? (130 to 150 words approximately) (4 points)

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