Bilingual kids may learn new language faster

According to a recently conducted study, bilingual brains, used to switching between two languages, are also good at managing multiple tasks at a time.

Children who are bilingual can be better and faster at learning additional languages later in life than their peers who are monolinguals from their early childhood, researchers say.

The findings showed significant difference in language learners' brain patterns.
When learning a new language, bilinguals rely more than monolinguals on the brain processes that people naturally use for their native language, the researchers said.
"We also find that bilinguals appear to learn the new language more quickly than monolinguals," said lead author Sarah Grey, assistant professor at the Fordham University in New York City.
For the study, published in the journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, the team enrolled college students who grew up in the US with Mandarin-speaking parents, and learned both English and Mandarin at an early age.
They were matched with monolingual college students, who spoke only English.
The researchers studied Mandarin-English bilinguals because both of these languages differ structurally from the new language being learned.
Both groups learnt to both speak and understand an artificial version of a Romance language, Brocanto.
The researchers found clear bilingual or monolingual differences. By the end of the first day of training, the bilingual brains, but not the monolingual brains, showed a specific brain-wave pattern, termed the P600 -- commonly found when native speakers process their language.
In contrast, the monolinguals only began to exhibit P600 effects much later during learning -- by the last day of training.
Moreover, on the last day, the monolinguals showed an additional brain-wave pattern not usually found in native speakers of languages.
"There has been a lot of debate about the value of early bilingual language education."
" Now, we have novel brain-based data that points towards a distinct language-learning benefit for people who grow up bilingual," added Michael T. Ullman, professor at the Georgetown University in the US.
Another study shows that Bilingual people tend to produce fewer words of any given semantic category than people who only speak one language fluently. In other words, their individual vocabularies in each language tend to be smaller than that of people who only speak one of those languages.
Though Bilingual people tend to have weaker verbal skills but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Some of the major advantages of being a bilingual includes:
The bilingual brain is used to handling two languages at the same time. This develops skills for functions such as inhibition (a cognitive mechanism that discards irrelevant stimuli), switching attention, and working memory. Because bilingual people are used to switching between their two languages, they are also better at switching between tasks, even if these tasks are nothing to do with language.
As already found by the aforementioned research, People who speak two languages have also been shown to have more efficient monitoring systems. Also, they outperform monolingual people in spatial working memory tasks.
Taking part in stimulating physical or mental activity can help maintain cognitive function, and delay the onset of symptoms in people suffering from dementia. The onset of dementia symptoms is significantly delayed - by as much as five years - in patients who are bilingual.
Our brains change and adapt as a result of experience.
Studies have shown that people who are multilingual have higher density of grey matter, and that older people who are bilingual tend to have better-maintained white matter in their brains.

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