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:6/23/2017)... , ... June 23, 2017 , ... Goodcents Deli Fresh ... The restaurant is located at 4210 SW 21st St. Topeka, Kan. 66604 (near 21st ... of Graham Restaurant Group who owns three other locations in the Topeka and Bonner ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Georgia State ... 18 to 20. , The two-day conference is focused on advancing scientific knowledge ... improving patients’ lives and eliminating racial breast cancer-related disparities. The conference theme is ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... PureLife ... the endorsed amalgam separator supplier for CDA members. As part of the amalgam separator ... price of $99, saving more than $400 off the retail value. This partnership between ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Ulster University, Magee Campus in Northern Ireland ... to 3 pm to present to graduate students exciting new and innovative hope research ... project led by The Health Improvement Service of the Western Health & Social Care ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... 2017 , ... All-Star Insurance, a family managed agency that offers insurance management ... announcing the launch of a new charity drive to benefit women in the area ... reveal that an estimated 252, 710 new cases of invasive or high risk breast ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/8/2017)... 8, 2017   Responding to Heath Ledger,s ... death of singer Chris Cornell in May, the ... offers a free online psychiatric drug side ... families about psychotropic drug risks. The father ... from an accidental overdose, has called for tighter rules on ...
(Date:6/7/2017)... Specialty Infusion Group, a brand of Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: DPLO), ... location. The Iowa ... 7 cleanroom—the standard needed to compound intravenous (IV) nutrition formulations. A ... "Our new cleanroom will allow ... Iowa patients," said Phil Rielly , ...
(Date:6/2/2017)... , June 2, 2017  NxStage Medical, Inc. (Nasdaq:  NXTM), a ... today announced new findings demonstrating positive biochemical outcomes related ... System One™. The data will be presented at the ... Madrid, Spain . The ... Home Dialysis Network in Europe ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: