The Advantages of Being Bilingual

There is a lot in the news these days about the benefits of bilingualism, but many people still have the idea that learning two languages can be confusing for children.  Here are a few resources that highlight the advantages of being bilingual and provide research to show that bilingual children have more cognitive flexibility in problem-solving skills and executive functions.

On the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) website the advantages of bilingualism are laid out in a succinct manner. These advantages might include:

  • Being able to learn new words easily
  • Playing rhyming games with words like “cat” and “hat”
  • Breaking down words by sounds, such as C-A-T for cat
  • Being able to use information in new ways
  • Putting words into categories
  • Coming up with solutions to problems
  • Good listening skills
  • Connecting with others

A recent article in the New York Times called “Hearing Bilingual: How Babies Sort Out Language” also reported on the benefits of infants’ exposure to two languages based on research done at the University of Washington.  “What the study demonstrates is that the variability in bilingual babies’ experience keeps them open,” said Dr. Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the study. “They do not show the perceptual narrowing as soon as monolingual babies do. It’s another piece of evidence that what you experience shapes the brain.”

Becoming Bilingual: A Tale of Two Bilingual SLPs by Andrea Hughes and Leah Joseph

Written by: mwirka

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