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 childrenâ€™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 babyâ€™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 â€œbrain powerâ€.
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. Mechelliâ€™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?