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Published by under categories Bilingual Baby, From Lina | comments Comments (6)

It is generally agreed that learning a second language early in life can bring children invaluable skills, such as viewing the world with different lens, better reading abilities, better academics performance and etc.

But do you know that learning a second language can help boost children’s brain power. In another word, being bilingual may make your child stronger, quicker and smarter?

During the multifaceted process of childhood development, particular brain changes help children better process, store, and remember information in their environment and thus better direct and control their thoughts and behaviors. These brain changes also enable children to reach milestones on their individual developmental time line, for example, from the baby’s activity to sit up and crawl to walking.

Scientists already know the brain has the ability to make change its structure as a result of stimulation, an effect known as plasticity. Brain science has discovered that learning a second language can further boost this plasticity, or so called “brain power”.

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According to Dr. Andrea Mechelli, a well-known researcher at the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, being bilingual not only structurally alters the brain’s anatomy, but also changes the density of the brain’s grey matter, which is associated with intellect, especially in areas of language, memory, and attention. The effect is more obvious the earlier that a second language was learned.

Dr. Mechelli’s team took brain image scans of 25 monolinguals, 25 bilinguals who learned a second language before age five and 33 bilinguals who learned a second language between age 10 and 15.

The scan revealed that bilingual speakers had denser gray matter compared with monolingual participants. And the effect was particularly noticeable in the “early” bilinguals.

The findings were also replicated in a study of 22 native Italian speakers who had learned English as a second language between age two and 34. As in the first test, the earlier a second language was learned, the denser gray matter in the left inferior parietal cortex of the brain that person had.

Children’s brains have tremendous plasticity. If learning a second language can help boost this brain power, are you going to raise your children bilingual?

Relevant posts:
Never too early to learn second tongue
Pre- and perinatal education
Parents: child’s life-time teachers


Comments

  1. 1
    sarah sallis // July 23rd, 2010 at 3:12 am

    how do we support them though as im doing my level 3 in childcare and im struggling on this questions i need to know how and why we suppoort children’s communication in billuigual and multilingual settings

  2. 2
    Lina // July 23rd, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    @sarah sallis: this question has intrigued linguists, biologist, psychologists, educators, sociologist and paretns for decades. So don’t feel alone.

    About “how we support children’s communication in bilingual and multilingual settings”, in my opinion, there are four methonds we can do:
    Method 1: talk to babies in a way that helps them learn faster;
    Method 2: create a language-rich environment for babies;
    Method 3: consistently expose babies to the correct use of the language in many different linguistic contexts;
    Method 4: encourage babies to actively engage in interaction

    You can read more details in
    â–¼ How to help babies acquire languages?
    How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 1)
    How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 2)
    How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 3)
    How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 4)

    As to “why why we suppoort children’s communication in billuigual and multilingual settings”, the answer is much simple: being bilingual or multilingual helps children become more intelligent, such as superior performance on concept formation tasks, enhanced ability to restructure perceptual solutions, stronger performances in rule discovery tasks, greater verbal ability and verbal intelligence, precocious levels of divergent thinking and creativity, and higher levels of cognitive development at an earlier age reached by bilingual children than their monolingual peers. See more details in Bilingualism and cognitive development.

    Hope this helps!

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