A new study reveals that children who can speak more than one language have a learning advantage, with superior problem-solving skills and creative thinking than kids who only know one. According to the researchers from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, the mental agility needed to switch between languages may develop skills that boost other types of thinking.
The study consisted of 121 children—half of whom were bilingual—who were asked to perform a number of tasks, such as reproduce patterns of colored blocks, repeat a series of numbers, define words and solve math problems in their heads. The bilingual children performed much better than those who spoke one language. Furthermore, bilingual children knew and understood vocabulary words with a better “level of detail and richness in description” than their one-language peers and found it easier to identify and focus on information that was important, study leader Fraser Lauchlan said.
"Bilingualism is now largely seen as being beneficial to children but there remains a view that it can be confusing, and so potentially detrimental to them," Lauchlan said in a university news release. "Our study has found that it can have demonstrable benefits, not only in language but in arithmetic, problem-solving and enabling children to think creatively."
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