Bilingual expat children may have a lifelong advantage

Published:  3 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: Study Abroad
Expat parents’ worries that studying a second language may restrict their children’s progress in English may be unfounded.

Owners of bilingual schools in popular expat areas are becoming convinced that children studying a second language are at a distinct advantage as regards their cognitive, social and linguistic responses. Research confirms this view, with studies showing bilingual children almost always outperform their monolingual peers.

A study reported in the New York Times also suggests that the brain flexibility induced by being bilingual lasts well into old age, with the mind staying sharper and more concentrated. Bilinguals understand linguistic complexities far better than monolinguals, and are able to cope better with grammar and the meaning of words in context.

Bilingual children also show increased competence in analytical skills and visual problem-solving, as well as in the concept of numbers. Reading abilities are enhanced and bilinguals gain social skills at a higher level than their monolingual peers.

As adults, they will be able to accommodate change without insecurity and are able to alter their level of communication to suit the listener. However, to achieve these impressive results, a bilingual child needs to be balanced, with proficiency in both languages. To achieve this, parents should note that the earlier a child begins to learn a second language the more effective will be the result, up until the ages of nine or 10.
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