Adapted from Stroop, 1935

Compared to monolinguals, bilinguals tend to perform better on tasks like this one. This may be because bilinguals constantly practice switching between the rules of two languages. Monolinguals can improve their cognitive flexibility with practice. Sorting by different features, or playing games like “Simon says” which ask children to inhibit a response, are a fun way to practice.

There are other cognitive advantages related to bilingualism. Bilingual 6-month-olds have a more flexible memory system compared to their monolingual peers. This advantage continues over the lifespan. Some studies suggest that bilingualism may help delay age-related decline in abilities like cognitive flexibility and memory.