Do bilingual children have something extra?

The training to which the brain is subjected to be able to learn different sounds and words by switching from one language to another depending on the context in which the children find themselves allows them to manage a greater number of information at the same time thus acquiring speed in solving problems of various kinds.

This is what emerges from a study conducted jointly by the University of Udine, the Irccs Eugenio Medea and the Provincial School of Health Claudiana and published in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

The study involved 62 childrenbetween 4 and 6 years of age of the same gender distribution, manual skills and socio-cultural level. Half of the sample (31 subjects) attended the Italian state kindergarten while the other half attended the international kindergarten for about 8 hours a day while for the rest of the time it continued to be exposed to the Italian language (their mother tongue ).

“In small bilinguals– explains Andrea Marini, researcher in General Psychology and first author of the study – increases the short-term memory of work, that is, the cognitive ability that allows you to arrive first at a solution in case of a problem. So exposing children adequately to a context in which another language is spoken enhances some cognitive skills without necessarily compromising the development of the mother tongue. “

The researchers also assessed the language skills of the two groups of children. ” hand – explains Marini – the bilinguals showed the same ability to articulate and distinguish the sounds of the Italian language of monolinguals “.The ability to find words to indicate objects, animals or people and to construct sentences was also perfectly superimposable in the two groups.

“The bilingual group however – adds the researcher – had a slightly less rich vocabulary than the reference group”. A ‘slight delay’ which according to the expert, however, can be easily compensated by increasing the level of children’s exposure to the mother tongue.


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