Here's what your preschooler gets out of being bilingual

ANI | Updated: Nov 01, 2017 08:54 IST

Here's what your preschooler gets out of being bilingual .

Washington D .C . [USA], Nov 1 (ANI): Preschoolers who speak two languages show less impulsiveness than their monolingual peers, a recent study has suggested .

The University of Oregon research found that speaking two languages may be better than one, especially for developing inhibitory control - the ability to stop a hasty reflexive response and instead select a more adaptive response .

The study took a longitudinal approach to examine the bilingual advantage hypothesis, which suggests that the demands associated with managing two languages confer cognitive advantages that extend beyond the language domain .

Researchers looked at a national sample of 1,146 Head Start children who were assessed for their inhibitory control at age 4, and then followed over an 18-month period . The children were divided into three groups based on their language proficiency: Those who spoke only English; those who spoke both Spanish and English; and those who spoke only Spanish at the start of the study but were fluent in both English and Spanish at the follow up assessment .

Lead author Jimena Santillan revealed that at the beginning of the study, the group that entered as already bilingual scored higher on a test of inhibitory control compared to the other two groups .

Follow-up assessments came at six and 18 months . Inhibitory control was assessed using a common pencil-tapping task, in which the participant is instructed to tap a pencil on a desk twice when the experimenter taps once, and vice-versa, requiring the student to inhibit the impulse to imitate what the experimenter does and but do the opposite instead .

Over the follow-up period, both the bilingual group and the monolingual-to-bilingual transition group showed more rapid inhibitory control development than the group of English-only speakers .

Co-author Atika Khurana noted that the development of inhibitory control occurs rapidly during the preschool years . Children with strong inhibitory control are better able to pay attention, follow instructions and take turns .

Khurana continued that this study showed one way in which environmental influences can impact the development of inhibitory control during younger years .

The study appears in the journal Developmental Science . (ANI)

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