How Learning 2 Languages Shapes the Development of Children

16 Apr 2015

BY: trini

Language / Speech Therapy

By Yovana Miramontes-Risk

It has been a common misconception that the exposure of two languages in a child younger than three years old may cause some confusion in the development of speech and language. Research shows that this not the case; on the contrary, learning two languages has shown some significant advantages.

spanish-375830_1280There is neither confusion nor inherent negative impacts on development, and most importantly, there are some socio-cognitive advantages. Socio-cognitive development has to do with the way children change with age in terms of the ability to think about communicative and social issues.

This has been examined more and more by researchers in regards to the learning of two languages. Mostly because the knowledge of two languages can have an affect on how thoughts and words are represented and processed.

In regards to understanding the communication needs of their conversation-partners, bilingual children have quite the advantage. They show an earlier understanding in other people and their different beliefs, as opposed to monolingual children. They also pick out the important variables to solve problems a lot sooner than monolingual children.

Studies have also shown that bilingual children achieve higher scores on cognitive ability tests, in comparison to monolingual children. Some of these tests include mental flexibility, non-verbal problem-solving tasks, understanding the conventional origin of names, and many others.

According to Linda Halgunseth, writer of How Children Learn a Second Language, “Research strongly supports the benefits of bilingualism in language, literacy, social and cognitive development.” For example, bilingual children have performed better, in comparison to monolingual children, in measures of analytical ability, concept formation, cognitive flexibility, and metalinguistic skills.

In conclusion, there are no overall disadvantages to bilingualism in children. On the contrary, there are advantages in children who learn two languages, as opposed to one. I believe this is very true, especially growing up knowing two languages, I always felt very honored and proud of my culture.