Why Bilinguals Are Smarter

SPEAKING two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.

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For Kids, a History App Meant for Museums

How to get a kid jazzed about the oldest stories in the world in an age of distraction? Make a game of it. That’s the idea behind History Hero, a new app for portable Apple devices that asks children to defend history – for video-game-style points — against an alien group known as the Erasers.

Using portable devices, players seek to “save” world culture from an alien breed bent on social obliteration by answering questions or snapping pictures of artifacts.

The app combines newfangled gaming rewards with old-fashioned scavenger hunts in institutions like London’s British Museum to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Minneapolis-based lawyer Mitch Zamoff, a father of three children aged 9 to 14, got the idea for the app after a recent family trip to Rome when the kids recalled the hotel pool and gelato as the highlights of their tour. “My wife and I laughed, but it’s also not that funny because we saved a lot of dough for this trip and the kids were in the freaking Roman Forum, which had the chance to light a fire, and it just didn’t take for them,” Mr. Zamoff said.

The app costs $4.99 per museum at and includes differing content for ages 4 to 7 (recommended with an adult companion), 8 to 12 and 13 and up. Currently 24 museums are covered in six cities including New York, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., as well as London, Paris and Rome, with Chicago and Philadelphia coming soon.