Despite popular belief, knowing a second language may not even be the biggest perk of being bilingual.
According to the New York Times, learning a new language can also aid in the development of your child’s social abilities. This recent article looked into a study about bilingualism and its influence on children’s perspectives.
The study gathered a group of children, including both monolingual and bilingual children. The group had to face an issue that required them to look at the problem from a perspective other than their own.
Care to guess what the result was?
The researchers’ found that bilingual kids fared better than their monolingual counterparts. Nevertheless, the why of that conclusion is the interesting part.
By default, most people would guess that bilingual children would be better at a task like this. But have you ever stopped to wonder why?
It’s because of certain hurdles bilingual children face when learning a new language. It teaches them to look at things with different perspectives. Take my child, for example, who is learning both English and Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese, so he doesn’t hear it at home. But, when he walks into his school that’s all he hears. So, his day is filled with changes in perspective from one language to the next. He has to know who to speak English to, who to speak Chinese to, and when to speak each. He has to understand both your perspective and the perspective of the other people around him.
In the same study, monolingual children who had grandparents who spoke other languages or were often exposed to another language also fared better than the rest of the pack.
A second study referenced in the NY Times’ article is just as interesting and enlightening. This second study was conducted with babies ranging from 14 to 16 months old. The babies were shown two versions of the same object; one of them was visible to both the baby and an adult while the other was only visible to the baby.
And, here is where the magic happened! The adult would ask the baby for the object and wait to see which of the two versions the baby would hand her, the version visible to both of them or the one only the baby could see.
The researchers found that the monolingual babies reached equally often to the two versions, while the babies who had exposure to a second language reached more often for the version the adult could see.
The researchers concluded that exposure to a new language, even if not to a level of developing bilingualism, is enough to facilitate children’s skills of interpersonal understanding.
So, you see, it takes just that little! It doesn’t matter how little time you have. It is important that you talk to your children in order to help them grow and develop the skills they will need for the rest of their lives. We know now that even just a little exposure to a new language can help give them an edge. And yet, sometimes parents don’t have much time to help their kids in this “brain building” process.
However, there are ways you can make the most of the little time you have with your children. A short lunch or even over breakfast is enough time for a parent to make a difference in their child’s cognitive and social development.
Here is one of my favorite tools you can use to develop short activities that will spark your kid’s brain building process and help them build essential skills. Meet Vroom, it’s a mobile app that will change how you spend time with your kids – in a positive way, of course!
Even just a quick look at their app description gives you an idea of how powerful a tool this can be for busy parents:
“New science tells us that our children’s first years are when they develop the foundation for all future learning. Every time we connect with them, it’s not just their eyes that light up—it’s their brains too. In these moments, half a million neurons ﬁre at once, taking in all the things we say and do. We can’t see it happening, but it’s all there, all at work. That’s why Vroom is here.
Vroom turns shared moments into brain building moments. Whether it’s mealtime, bathtime, or anytime in between, there are always ways to nurture our children’s growing minds.”
I love this app because it gives you tips on how to make the most out of the short bursts of time you have with your kids. You can easily transform time waiting at a restaurant into meaningful conversations with your little one. The sky’s the limit!
Have you heard of any more perks of being bilingual?
Do you have a favorite app to aid in your children’s learning?
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