Bilingualism and the brain

Another article about bilingualism and the brain has appeared. I’ve posted about such studies before, but this time I want to respond to the comments that came with the article. It seems that some people are bothered by the concept that since children will learn English in school, parents are choosing to speak to their children in the non-English language. I believe this is one proper way of ensuring that your child is bilingual in America.

The only way for a child to be truly bilingual is to recreate learning the non-English language in the native environment. The children in the story were exposed to Hungarian as the only language until they started school. This would not be any different from a child being born in a non-English speaking country and arriving in an English speaking country during the toddler or early years. Young children learn languages fast, so it is not an issue at that age. Young children do not need to be actively taught a language, they absorb and process it in their own way. Part of learning a language not taught in school is that the parents need to reinforce the other language. Parents need to be proactive about teaching their children their non-English language.

In the U.S., where the primary language is English, it is necessary to reinforce the non-English language. Children will be exposed to English through TV, music, and school. But for the non-English language, the parents need to make an effort to keep the language in use through language schools and speaking at home. This would be the same in a foreign country if one were to provide children with ways to practice a secondary language, such as English. People may not agree with the tactics, but it is a method of ensuring that your child learns another language.

Links:
“Being Bilingual May Boost Your Brain Power” – NPR

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