A second language gives toddlers an edge

Toddlers who learn a second language from infancy have an edge over their unilingual peers, according to a new study from Concordia University and York University in Canada and the Universite de Provence in France. As reported in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, the research team tested the understanding of English and French words among 24-month-olds to see if bilingual toddlers had acquired comparable vocabulary in each language.

"By 24 months, we found bilingual children had already acquired a vocabulary in each of their two languages and gained some experience in switching between English or French," says senior researcher Diane Poulin-Dubois, a psychology professor at Concordia University and associate director of the Centre for Research in Human Development. "We found the cognitive benefits of bilingualism come much earlier than reported in previous studies."

As part of the investigation, 63 toddlers were divided into groups of unilingual and bilingual infants. To assess levels of bilingualism, parents completed a language exposure interview and checklists, while children completed five basic language and .

"Bilingual children outperformed their unilingual counterparts on tasks where they were distracted," says Dr. Poulin-Dubois. "The small bilingual advantage that we observed in our 24-month-old bilinguals is probably due to a combination of infants' experience listening to and using their two languages."

These new findings have practical implications for educators and parents, says Dr. Poulin-Dubois. "Exposing to a early in their development provides a bilingual advantage that enhances attention control."

Provided by Concordia University
Citation: A second language gives toddlers an edge (2011, January 19) retrieved 14 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-01-language-toddlers-edge.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more