This section of Ma Puce is where you can keep up to date on all the latest being written about bilingualism and the benefits of bringing up children to be bilingual. Childhood bilingualism is a much debated topic and there is a constant stream of new thought pieces and studies coming out. We’ll keep you up to date with all the most interesting and pertinent information here.
Speech Discrimination in Bilingual Infants
A study by a team of University of British Columbia researchers used a visual fixation procedure to study the development of phonetic representations in English monolingual and English-French bilingual infants. The results demonstrate that if infants are exposed to two languages through human interaction, they will acquire the phonetic categories of the languages by approximately the end of their first year. But as the author of this piece points out, this doesn’t mean that all is lost if your child hasn’t had the benefits of a bilingual upbringing from birth. Source: Psychology Today Francois Grosjean’s Blog: Speech Discrimination in Bilingual Infants April 2012
Being Bilingual Boosts Brainpower
If ever you needed proof that being bilingual has benefits beyond being able to speak two languages, here it is. Prof Nina Kraus, who led the research, at Northwestern University in the US , said: “The bilingual’s enhanced experience with sound results in an auditory system that is highly efficient, flexible and focused in its automatic sound processing, especially in challenging or novel listening conditions.”
Co-author Viorica Marian said: “People do crossword puzzles and other activities to keep their minds sharp. But the advantages we’ve discovered in dual language speakers come automatically simply from knowing and using two languages. Read the full story here: BBC News: Being Bilingual Boosts Brainpower May 2012
What Is It Like To Be Bilingual?
A great piece by François Grosjean, Ph.D, Emeritus Professor of psycholinguistics at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. His most recent book is Bilingual: Life and Reality (2010). The piece looks at two studies done on bilingual people and weighs up the pros and cons, with the pros very much coming out on top. Source: Psychology Today: What is it like to be bilingual? October 2011
It’s Official: Learning Languages Makes You Smarter
A study carried out by academics at Newcastle and York Universities reveals there is scientific basis in believing that learning languages makes you smarter.
“Just minimal exposure to another language can change the way people think, even about time. In the 1970s, researchers discovered that for English-speaking children, time goes from left to right. By contrast, Arab children think in the opposite way, and those just learning English represented time in both directions”. Source: Newcastle University: It’s official: learning languages makes you smarter October 2011
Bilingualism Provides Cognitive Advantages For Children
The results from this study show that the children who grow up with two languages (bilingual) show a definite advantage in cognitive and other developmental skills compared to those children who grow up with only one language (monolingual). This is the first study to demonstrate this advantage in children as young as two years of age. There is evidence that children can differentiate between different languages at a very early age; because of this ability, bilingual children learn to manage their attention between two languages, developing their executive functioning earlier than monolingual children. This study holds encouraging news for parents who hope to raise their children in a multi-lingual household. Source: FYI Living Bilingualism Provides Cognitive Advantages For Children August 2011
Click here for the full paper on this research: The effects of bilingualism on toddlers’ executive functioning