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Bilingual babies = cognitive enhancement

Bilingual babies = cognitive enhancementThere was a time when bilingualism was being frowned about. When a friend of mine from Asia migrated to Scotland with her two children about 15 years ago, the teachers at the local school told her to stop talking to her kids in their mother tongue, but rather stick to English. The reasons given were “to avoid confusion and facilitate integration.” I’ve heard many stories like these in my generation, where bilingualism was suppressed in monolingual countries like the US, the UK, Germany and France. Nowadays bilingual has become acceptable, even desirable. Bilingual schools and daycares abound. This latest research by Italian researchers suggests that we are actually heading in the right direction. Most important, it seems that kids can handle it without any problem at all.

The researchers compared 40 babies who were aged 7 months who were either from a bilingual or monolingual household. Using age-appropriate eye-tracking tests, the researchers report that babies from bilingual households have enhanced cognitive control mechanism compared to monolingual babies. This cognitive enhancement probably aids the babies in acquiring two languages simultaneously. What is astounding is the fact that the babies learn to cope with bilingualism so early in life – long before they start speaking.

As mom of two bilingual children, I am glad to hear that I am actually doing the right thing.

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