Maria Konnikova on the bilingual advantage.

Are Bilinguals Really Smarter Than the Rest of Us?

Are Bilinguals Really Smarter Than the Rest of Us?

A daily news and culture podcast with Mike Pesca.
May 12 2017 8:02 PM

Are Bilinguals Really Smarter?

Our social science sleuth Maria Konnikova returns to take on the question of whether bilinguals are brighter than the rest of us. 

A warning sign in four languages on a Portuguese beach.

Richard Baker/Getty Images

Listen to Episode 742 of Slate’s The Gist:


A century ago, bilingual children were seen as disadvantaged—a kid speaking English and Spanish was liable to become confused and might not learn properly. Now? Bilinguals are seen as better than the rest of us. They get dementia later. They have bigger brains and are better at focusing on tasks. So what’s the truth? Our resident social science sleuth Maria Konnikova investigates. She’s a New Yorker contributor and author of The Confidence Game. Her new podcast is The Grift.

In the Spiel, the news buried this week by the firing of James Comey.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at

Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook.

Mike Pesca is the host of the Slate daily podcast The Gist. He also contributes reports and commentary to NPR.