Navigation Links
For Kids, Two Languages Can Be as Easy as One
Date:7/9/2009

Bilingual youngsters become 'more flexible learners,' researcher says

THURSDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) - European researchers are contesting the assumption that bilingual toddlers have more trouble learning language skills than children who know just one language.

"While the remarkable performance of children acquiring one language is impressive, many children acquire more than one language simultaneously," said study author Agnes Melinda Kovacs, a research fellow at the International School for Advanced Studies, in Trieste, Italy. "As bilingual children presumably have to learn roughly twice as much as their monolingual peers [because they learn two languages instead of one], one would expect their language acquisition to be somewhat delayed. However, bilinguals pass the language development milestones at the same ages as their monolingual peers."

The finding, which appears online July 9 in Science, came from a test of the responses to verbal and visual cues from 64 babies who were 12 months old. They came from monolingual and bilingual families, although the study did not specify which languages the families spoke.

The toddlers were exposed to two sets of words that had different structural characteristics. After each word, the children viewed a special toy on either the left or right side of a screen, depending on the word's structure. They then were presented with words they had never heard before but that conformed to one of the two verbal structures. No toy followed.

Researchers determined whether the infants had learned the word structures by measuring the direction of their gaze after hearing each new word. Judging by their eye movements, the bilingual kids did better in recognizing words than their monolingual peers.

"We showed that pre-verbal, 12-month-old, bilingual infants have become more flexible at learning speech structures than monolinguals," Kovacs said. "When given the opportunity to simultaneously learn two different regularities, bilingual infants learned both, while monolinguals learned only one of them."

This means, she said, that "bilinguals may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one because they quickly become more flexible learners."

According to the study, the cognitive pathways developed during the learning of two languages might make bilingual children more efficient in acquiring new information.

Earlier research has often confirmed the benefits of learning more than one language. In a 2004 Canadian study, for example, researchers found that bilingual speakers were more proficient at dealing with distractions than those who spoke only a single language. That ability was even more pronounced for older people, suggesting that multilingualism might help elderly speakers avoid age-related cognitive problems.

A significant percentage of humanity speaks more than one language. In the United States, more than 18 percent of the population aged 5 and older speaks a language other than English at home, according to the 2000 U.S. census.

One child psychologist who read the Italian study found the results intriguing and said she would like to see further research on how children learn different languages, especially ones with different tonal structures, such as Chinese and English.

"We now know, thanks to [functional MRI] studies that allow us to observe the working brain, that learning does result in discrete changes in 'wiring,'" said Marta Flaum, whose practice in Chappaqua, N.Y. specializes in diagnosing and helping children with dyslexia and other language handicaps. "It would make sense that learning a second language affects brain changes as well."

However, Flaum said, "we know that the young brain is more plastic than the older brain, making it easier to learn at an earlier age."

More information

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics has more on the emerging field of psycholinguistics.



SOURCES: Agnes Kovacs, Ph.D., research fellow, International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy; Marta Flaum, Ph.D., child psychologist, Chappaqua, N.Y.; July 9, 2009, Science, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Talk With Kids, Not At Them
2. Tessa, of Dancercise Kids, Wins the National Parenting Centers Seal of Approval for New Childrens Music CD
3. U.S. Senate Acts to Protect Kids, Save Lives by Increasing Federal Tobacco Taxes
4. In Kids, Genes May Affect Leukemia Treatment
5. U.S. House Acts to Protect Kids, Save Lives by Increasing Federal Tobacco Taxes
6. For Kids, the Flu Can Be Severe, Even Deadly
7. ethiKids, inc. Launches Website and Products to Address Declining Ethics in Children
8. Sleep Apnea Can Trouble Kids, Too
9. President Bush Should Protect Kids, Not Big Tobacco By Signing Bill to Increase Cigarette Tax, Fund SCHIP
10. Kids, How Do You Manage Your Asthma? The AAAAI and AAP announce 17th annual poster contest
11. Robot Speaks Many Languages - Improves Pharmacy Patient Outcomes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
For Kids, Two Languages Can Be as Easy as One
(Date:5/5/2016)... IN (PRWEB) , ... May 05, 2016 , ... ... benefits advisory organization, announces McLaughlin & Smoak Benefits as the latest addition to ... Smoak Benefits has a dedicated team of compliance, wellness, human resources, and health ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... Michael ... charity program created to assist the people of their local community. The agency ... organizations and community leaders. Their hope is to bring awareness to important local ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... ... community enrichment program serving families of greater Dubuque, IA. The current campaign fundraises ... and honorably discharged veterans. Donations to Veteran’s Freedom Center may now be made ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... TIME for Kids and The ZAC Foundation – ... partnership to reach nearly 1 million children with important water safety messages before summer ... leading cause of accidental death in children one to 6 years of age. ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... 05, 2016 , ... The 2016 Nike Soccer Camp will be directed by ... coaching staff. Together they bring their winning Vandals coaching philosophy to young athletes. Programs ... 5-13, and high school players. Session dates are as follows: , Youth Day Camp ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)... Valeritas Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: VLRX) ... offering (APO). This was accomplished via a reverse merger ... a private placement of approximately 5 million shares of ... Under the terms of the reverse merger, which ... will trade on the OTC Markets under the symbol ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... , May 4, 2016 ... addition of the  "Global Acute Ischemic Stroke ...  report to their offering.       ... Global Acute Ischemic Stroke Market and ... into Acute Ischemic Stroke pipeline products, Acute ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... 4, 2016 Research ... "Global Actinic Keratosis Market and Competitive Landscape ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ... Competitive Landscape Highlights 2016, provides comprehensive insights ... epidemiology, Actinic Keratosis market valuations and forecast, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: