Review on Bilingual Research for Parenting

As children with multi language exposure, parents must get to know current Bilingual Education Research and recommendations regarding the language development of bilingual children and early language intervention. As parents, if we are familiar with the current Bilingual Education Research, we can better answer some questions such as, “How should we talk to our child? Should we use one language or two?” In addition, we can provide better early language intervention.

Bilingual Education Research: In favor of bilingual

We do not yet know the limits of the human mind
From the 30’s research that said children could be cognitively confused when introduced to two languages at once, therefore, some of parents are fear of overloading their children with two languages and make their children confused. However, these studies have since been dismissed for poor methodology. In fact, by recent research, we do not yet know the limits of the human mind, we only know that the more you give it, the more it can grow. The more connections will be built among new information. Children have an enormous capacity for languages.

Divergent-thinking advantages
Divergent-thinking advantages are reported by some researchers on bilingualism. Learning two languages early can help children to see that there is more than one way of saying something, which leads them to better understand there is more than one way to look at a problem and more than one solution they may get. Bilingual children, therefore, tend to be more creative in problem solving according to McGill University Professor Lambert’s paper, “Effects of Bilingualism on the Individual” published by New York Academic Press, in 1974.

The increase of meta-linguistic awareness
Another benefit of language acquisition is the increase of meta-linguistic awareness, a greater sensitivity to language in general and a greater awareness of meaning and structure in language, because multilingual children receive more linguistic input, which requires a greater amount of language analysis.

Baker’s “A Parent’s and Teacher’s Guide to Bilingualism” by Multilingual Matters Ltd, in 2000, finds that bilinguals are also better at using new vocabulary even in their own first language because by knowing there are two words for everything, children pay more attention to words’ meanings and tend to use even words in English more accurately.

Significant delay of memory loss in adulthood
Recent research indicates that bilingual delay memory problems in later years, because additional effort expended in speaking another language boosts blood supply to the brain and ensures nerve connections remained healthy. By using a different language, different areas of our brain are used. Memory is kept via constant activity.

Bilingual Education Research: Worries on bilingual

In late 1970’s, Dr. Jim Cummins’ research suggested that if a child’s first language learned has not reached a certain threshold of competence, then the child may become “semi-lingual”, which reflects low levels of competence in both languages. While bilingualism has generally been considered to be of cognitive benefit, some studies have shown that it has negative effects on cognitive and academic progress. This controversy is ongoing. Cummins explained the negative results of these studies as being associated with linguistic minorities, where the minority language was being replaced in some sense by the socially dominant one, while the studies that found a positive effect were associated with “additive bilingualism,” a situation in which majority-language children acquire a second language.

Later research objected to Cummins’ rule on empirical and theoretical grounds. In Carey Myles’ book, Raising Bilingual Children, she contends that subsequent studies have shown that bilingual children who were significantly weaker in one language than the other, still achieved higher scores than monolingual children on various tests.

One Parent – One Language

One Parent – One Language is a popular approach in bilingual family. If only one parent speaks a different language, in this case, the monolingual parent speaks the language of the country’s majority to the child and the bilingual parent speaks the different language.

Children pick up early which parent doesn’t speak the second language and will be comfortable with having time with this parent in the language of the country. Some parents handle this time but continuing to speak in the second language with the children, but still understanding the topic in the language of the country. Eventually the children learn some passive such as listening knowledge of the second language.

Conclusion on Bilingual Education Research

The general consensus of the most linguists is that a child must be at grade level with one of the two languages if the child is bilingual by the Bilingual Education Research. The child’s English, for example, isn’t compromised by having less proficiency in another language.

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5 thoughts on “Review on Bilingual Research for Parenting

  1. Bilinigualism is a minimum for the kids of my generation. For my children I am emphasizing on multilingualism. As nowadays with world globalisation knowing just English and Mandarin is insufficient to communicate effectively with the majority. I personally am collating/writing a book on how today’s parents are preparing their kids through Multilingual parenting.

  2. I am a grandmother of a bright and active 14 month girl. Her mother speaks and reads to her in FOUR languages: English, Hebrew, Polish and Spanish. The child does not speak any recognizable words to date although she does make word like sounds. She does not even say a version of mother or father? I would think a bilingual home is fine but I am worried that 4 languages with different syntax’s may be a stretch at this age. Could this cause stuttering or any other type of speech or mental problems? Thanks for your help on your opinion and any other written evidence of research or opinion on this issue.

  3. Hello Carol, thank you very much for your sharing. I personally think it is better to communicate with a baby using one language until 3 year-old, and then gradually introduce the second language.

  4. I don’t agree! my children since infants grew up with three languages at the same time, English,by their father, Spanish by me (mother) and Greek in their school. They are now adults 27 and 29 and are successful professional that speak three and for languages fluently.

  5. Hi Isabel,
    Thank you very much for sharing. You gave us a very good example on “one parent, one language” approach. I think you children started studying Greek after entering school, right?

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