Are two languages better than one?

“Crib” bilinguals show accelerated cognitive function

Parents debating the benefits of teaching their kids a second language should consider the findings of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Agnes Kovacs and Jacques Mehler at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, where bilingualism is common, studied 40 “preverbal” seven month olds. Half of the babies were “crib” bilinguals, meaning two languages were spoken at home, while the other half were monolingual. Using made-up words, the researchers trained the babies to expect the appearance of a puppet on a screen. When they changed the words and location of the puppet, the bilingual babies had an easier time adapting than their monolingual counterparts, indicating that bilingualism may accelerate the development of the brain’s executive function.

The Economist

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