“…nowadays many children … are learning to use more than one language. Across the world, government policies encourage the next generation to … be open to the possibilities of a different linguistic universe … to be conscious of the cross-cultural other.”Miranda Garralda Wong, Growing up Multilingual, Bilingualism Matters
We know that being exposed to different languages at an early age has many benefits. Growing up in a bilingual or multilingual environment not only encourages connection with other cultures but it also brings about many cognitive benefits.
A few benefits of having more than one language have been outlined in the list below. Next to each benefit, there is a link to additional information and tips for supporting your child in experiencing a new language.
B –Boosting cross-cultural communication skills 
I –Improving memory, visual-spatial skills, and creativity
L –Learning to listen carefully, categorize, and make decisions 
I –Increasing flexibility of mind 
N –Navigating a complex world 
G –Guarding against age-related cognitive decline 
U –Understanding other’s preferences better
A –Accelerating complex cognitive processing 
L – Learning to use information in new ways 
It takes time for children to acquire and especially to produce a new language. Remember how long it took them to acquire their first one! Have realistic expectations and make it fun! Passive language learners may understand everything they hear long before they are able to produce anything.
The key is to ensure that children are exposed to language input at an early age in a fun and interactive way in order to maximise their learning and communication skills while enjoying the journey.
- Marian, V., & Shook, A. (2012). The cognitive benefits of being bilingual. Cerebrum : the Dana forum on brain science, 2012, 13.
- MultilingualPractices: Tackling Challenges and Creating Opportunities, University of Groningen, FutureLearn.
- The Ling Space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=jgxLpLO3yNY&feature=youtu.be
- https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/advantages_of_a_bilingual_brain, Michigan State University
- How learning new languages boosts your brain & keeps it young, New Zealand Listener
- Bilingualism in the Early Years: What the Science Says, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6168212/
- Byrd, D. (2012). Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, 98(3), 19-30. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24536482
- The advantages of being bilingual – https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/The-Advantages-of-Being-Bilingual/