Why Knowing Another Language Makes You More Creative

Bilingualism Can Generate Creative Problem Solving

Personally, I love the sounds and musicality of all languages. I was raised in a bi-lingual household. I spoke English outside the home when I was with people who did not speak Italian. This was particularly at school and at activities that had some connection to school – e.g. cub scouts, athletics, music etc. But at home it was Italian all the way.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with a wide range of bilingual individuals in my creativity workshops. Many of these individuals demonstrated some high quality creative skill in their choice of art, and it was clear they were able to transfer that mindset into the success of other life endeavors. Interestingly, a lot of these individuals do not attribute their wonderful aptitudes to the fact that they were raised under the effects of two different languages – as I myself did not, especially as a young man.

Yet, I believe this kind of linguistic influence can spark early patterns of creative skill, thinking and vision that then snowball throughout life, so long as the pipeline stays on – all the more reason to involve one’s self in making art (any art) at any level. Just enjoy yourself and do it, doesn’t matter what the art or if you play like Mozart or paint like Van Gogh, and the pipeline is on.

You might think, offhand, that the interplay of two or more languages can sometimes frustrate an individual. There is some truth to that. At times, as a young person, I would start thinking in Italian when I was talking to someone who spoke English. I would know, for example, the Italian word for one thing or another, and not the English word. It was a little frustrating until I (as most bilingual kids do) learned to make the shift more smoothly. But this experience was well worth the bump up in creativity.

Read Dr. Joseph Cardillo’s full article on Psychology Today.

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