June 17, 2012

Article: Bilingualism Is Beneficial

From http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/educators-once-opposed-raising-bilingual-children-experts-now-say-its-beneficial/2012/06/08/gJQAdz9gUV_story.html

Educators once opposed raising bilingual children. Experts now say it’s beneficial.
By Catherine de Lange
June 11, 2012

The image of bilingualism has not always been … rosy. For many parents, the decision to raise children speaking two languages was controversial. Since at least the 19th century, educators warned that it would confuse the child, making him unable to learn either language properly. At best, they thought, the child would become a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. At worst, they suspected it might hinder other aspects of development, resulting in a lower IQ.

These days, such fears seem unjustified. True, bilingual people tend to have slightly smaller vocabularies in each language than their monolingual peers, and they are sometimes slower to reach for the right word when naming objects. But a key study in the 1962 by Elizabeth Peal and Wallace Lambert at McGill University in Montreal found that the ability to speak two languages does not stunt overall development. On the contrary, when controlling for other factors that might also affect performance, such as socioeconomic status and education, they found that bilinguals outperformed monolinguals in 15 verbal and nonverbal tests.

Although a trickle of research into the benefits of bilingualism followed that study, it is only within the past few years that bilingualism has received a lot of attention.

Read the full article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/educators-once-opposed-raising-bilingual-children-experts-now-say-its-beneficial/2012/06/08/gJQAdz9gUV_story.html

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