Advantages of Child Bilingualism

We are surrounded by language every waking moment of everyday. We use language to communicate our thoughts and feelings, to connect with others and to understand the world around us.

Little Friends School is proud to have a large number of bilingual children. We have children from all different ethnic backgrounds and enjoy interacting with them and even learning from them.

Bilingual Benefits

Studies have found that there are many benefits to being bilingual. A trait that was once considered a hindrance has now proved to have several advantages for both children and adults.

  1. Cognitive benefits: According to research, speaking a second language shows that children have better attention spans and are good multi-taskers. Children as young as seven months who are exposed to more than one language tend to adjust better to changes in the environment. Many studies show that bilingual children have a higher concentration and are better at working through distractions while doing school work. Because children are constantly switching from one language to another, whether it is at home between family members or at school, they are practicing their decision making by continually choosing which words to use.
  2. Opens up new social opportunities: A recent study published in Psychological Science, SAGE Journals found bilingual children have an advantage when it comes to social abilities and communication skills. They can make friends in more than one language meaning more opportunities to meet new people, and enjoy different hobbies and activities.
  3. Helps shield against dementia in old age: The collective evidence from a number of studies suggests that being bilingual improves the brain’s command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. In a recent study led by Neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan from the University of California, 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
children speaking languages

Bilingualism Takes Place in One of Two Ways

Simultaneous Acquisition happens when a child is raised bilingually from birth or when the second language is introduced before the age of three. Children learning two languages at the same time go through the same developmental stages as children learning one language. Early on, they are able to distinguish between their two languages and have been shown to switch languages according to who they are speaking to. For example, if a child is speaking Spanish to their Spanish-speaking parents and then switch to English with an English-speaking friend.

Sequential Acquisition occurs when a second language is introduced after the first language is established, which generally happens after three-years-old. Children may experience sequential acquisition if they immigrate to a country where a different language is spoken. Sequential learning may also occur if the child exclusively speaks their heritage language at home until they begin school where they begin to learn English.

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