When discussing the development of children, communication plays a large role in healthy growth. However, when the word comes to mind, many people think of the classic components of communication, like a child’s inquisitiveness or willingness to collaborate. A less focused upon aspect of healthy communication is bilingualism, which provides a host of benefits in the cognitive development of children.
When a child speaks more than one language, their comprehension and communication skills accelerate. According to the Department of Education, bilingual children “have advantages, not only in their literacy development, but in the development of problem-solving skills and other areas of cognition.” Functioning as a supplement to early childhood learning, multilingual instruction can have a resounding positive effect in the academic performance of children, in subjects like English and Math.
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Children who grow up learning more than one language are exposed to newer opportunities and unique experiences. With each new language comes a new culture to immerse yourself in; for children, it is no different. Multilingualism allows a child to develop a sense of identity, as well as pique their interest in learning about new lifestyles and cultures. In this way, they can instill in themselves a sense of tolerance that positively impacts the interactions they have with those different from them.
More than the social and emotional implications of bilingualism, there also come multiple health benefits. According to a study published in 2012, being bilingual or multilingual delays the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and alzheimers. In addition, bilingualism is linked to faster stroke recovery. These benefits come from the strengthened cognitive reserve an individual has when they speak more than one language.
For children, one of the most rewarding skills they can gain is to speak more than one language. When introduced in their youth, they will reap the benefits of bilingualism for the rest of their lives. At Bamrec Preschool, our dual English-Arabic learning environment provides the excitement of learning a new language, as well as the enrichment of bilingualism in one’s life.