Monolingualism as a disease?? Thomas Bak explains why only speaking one language is bad for our health, and what we can do about it
Pint of Science (15th - 17th May) is an annual event which sees researchers gathering in pubs, bars, cafes, converted warehouses and breweries across the UK to discuss their weird and wonderful findings with the public.
Dr Thomas Bak is a multilingual par excellence. From delivering lectures in English, Polish, French or Spanish, to brushing up on Gaelic, Mandarin Chinese or Swahili in his spare time - what’s perhaps most remarkable is that Thomas learnt none of these languages as a child. In recent years, Thomas’ research has increasingly shown the health benefits of learning a language – including for those who learn as adults. From reduced onset in dementia symptoms to better recovery following a stroke, it seems we could all benefit from following Thomas’ example. So is monolingualism really a disease? Thomas certainly thinks so. Come along and find out why!
Dr Thomas Bak is a psychologist and practising clinician with neurodegenerative diseases. His work looks at the overlap between language, thought, and movement. He is currently leading a group on Multilingualism and Health as part of a major research project ‘Multilingualism: Empowering individuals, Transforming societies’, and was recently awarded funding to work with social enterprise Lingoflamingo delivering language lessons to dementia patients.