A new study has found that bilingual immigrants are in better health than those who only speak one language.
The study, conducted and released by researchers at Rice University in Houston, looked at immigrants from countries such as Cuba, China and the Philippines, and found that both mental and physical health were better for those who spoke more than one language.
“It’s very important for the immigrants to hold on to their native language in addition to learning English,” one of the study’s authors said.“English proficiency gained at the expense of native-language fluency may not be beneficial for overall health status.”
Bilingualism provides for a “cultural flexibility,” which was the main factor contributing to the positive health results. Understanding the new language allows for easier adaptation and building new ties to the community, which, in turn, reduces feelings of stress and alienation.
Retaining one’s native language, on the other hand, preserves a sense of identity in immigrants and a tie to their homeland and culture.
Source: Globe and Mail