8 Long-Term Benefits of Raising a Bilingual Baby
Your little love can barely say “mama” and you’re already wondering if English is the only language they should speak. Being bilingual comes with advantages galore and, according to recent research, they go well beyond the obvious. Yes, a bilingual education gives your kiddo an entire second means of communication that they can use whenever they want. And it can increase their employment marketability as an adult and can open up an entirely new world of travel, excitement, and possibilities. But speaking a second language has these bonus benefits — for babies.
1. Attention Systems: According to a recent study from York University, infants who are raised in bilingual environments have greater attentional control. During eye movement task tests, the infants who regularly heard two different languages (remember, these babies were too young to speak yet) were better able to track changes and adjust to them than their monolingual peers.
2. Recognition Memory: Along with focus, babies who are exposed to two languages seem to also have improved recognition memory abilities in comparison to monolingual children. This type of cognitive ability gives your child the chance to recognize objects, people, events, or anything else that they’ve seen or interacted with before.
3. Listening: Young children raised in bilingual environments (or who learn more than one language) may have better listening skills, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). A 2017 study found that by 20 months, toddlers could differentiate between words in different languages — just by listening.
4. Categorizing Words: Another benefit that your bilingual baby may enjoy as they grow and develop is the ability to categorize words. This ability allows your kiddo to better understand and process the world around them.
5. Perspective Taking: Empathy is something every child needs, but it’s not always easy to develop. As your child builds a growing sense of self, they’ll also start to see their own being in reference to others. Research published in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition found that three- and four-year-olds who were already bilingual scored better on tasks that required taking other people’s perspectives.
6. Creating Connections: Being bilingual allows the child to create meaningful connections through their second language. This expands the child’s budding social repertoire and provides a way to build relationships with family and friends from different cultures.
7. Problem-Solving: A study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology found that bilingual toddlers may have cognitive flexibility and improved attention abilities. Skill development in these areas can lead to increased problem-solving abilities. As your child grows and moves into the school years, problem-solving is a skill that they’ll constantly use. Heck, they’ll need to hone this mental ability every day for the rest of their life.
8. Cultural Exposure: You want to open up the world to your child. A second language is an easy way to accomplish this goal. Not only is your child learning a new vocab, but they’re also getting the chance to explore the culture from where the words come from.
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