Researchers Suggest That Raising Children Bilingual Helps Them Become More Intelligent
A study has brought forth this interesting avenue, where bilingualism helps develop cognitive abilities in children. And quite shockingly, this happens before they can even form intelligible sentences.
The study occurred at Washington University, where 16 babies were tested. 50% of the babies were from an English background, while the rest were from a bilingual English-Spanish mixed background. The tests put the babies through various speech sounds, which ranged from preverbal all the way to the specific language sounds. The babies were monitored through MEG (magnetoencephalography), which researchers used to identify the part of the medulla oblongata that was utilized by the baby in trying to decipher the sound.
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The babies that came from a mixed background showed a lot of activity in the prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex of the brain. These regions are primarily responsible for taking all the executive functions, which includes decision-making. The main author of the study, Naja Ramirez stated in a press release that bilingualism helped babies from mixed backgrounds get ahead at practicing executive functions. Patricia Kuhl, who is the co-author, added that this behavior was an immensely helpful one, as babies would not be closed off to any other language or sounds that they get to hear. This would encourage adaptive thinking and split-second decision-making abilities.
This mechanism is obviously immensely helpful to both adults and children. In a similar study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, adults with a bilingual background had a better grasp of executive decisions than their unilingual counterparts. This is also symbolic of bilingual adults having the ability to multi-task, recall better and stand at a much higher level in problem-solving. Since these abilities directly correlate to one’s academic prowess, they also lead to long-term happiness. In fact, the tutelage of a different language would also postpone ailments like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Ramirez further elaborates that bilingualism doesn’t have any drawbacks to it. The earlier one begins learning, the faster their cognitive skills would grow. It is a well-established fact that young children can adhere more to learning new languages than an adult.
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Also, you don’t have to be bilingual for your child to be one- you can just raise them to be one. The famed Linguistic Society mentions that if you belong from a bilingual family, it is best to ensure that one parent speaks a specific language to the baby, while the other parent speaks the other language. This helps the baby get a good grasp of both languages- thereby sharpening their cognitive skills.
If you don’t belong to a bilingual family, remember that the internet has turned this world into a global village. Watch bilingual shows with your child with subtitles. Or eat different cuisines. Help your child with books in a different language. It doesn’t take much, and it will help you reap lots of rewards.
Video: I-LABS Tech Support