Brain Research

The Benefits of Learning Another Language!

As an educator, I am asked all the time by parents “what can make my child smarter?” This is how I am going to answer this question from now on…have your child learn another language!

How does learning another language help a child “get smarter” you ask?  This is what recent research reveals about bilingualism and dual language learning.

Current Research about Learning Two Languages:

  • A child’s thinking and cognition is improved by learning another language.
  • Children who know two languages are better problem-solvers!
  • Their brain works differently.
  • Knowledge of a second language affects how you read in your native tongue-sometimes faster.
  • It alters grey matter – the area of the brain which processes information, just like exercising builds muscle.
  • It improves skills in the native language.
  • Regardless of race and socioeconomic status, children with dual languages, did better on standardized tests.
  • Higher creativity in story-telling occurs.
  • In terms of language-semantic development, they were ahead by 2-3 years.
  • It exercises the brain, as it is a cognitivly-challenging task.

 Old Myths about Dual language Learning:

(Keep in mind, these are beliefs that are not backed up by research. Some children did experience these obstacles, but some of those children also had prior learning/speech disorders in their native language)

  • It confuses children.
  • Learning another language takes brain power away from learning the native language.
  • The native language worsens as a result.
  • Test scores decrease.

Future Benefits of Knowing Two or more Language:

  • The opportunity for getting a better job, which requires bilingualism.
  • The chance to travel to other countries for that job!
  • Improved tolerance and awareness of other cultures.
  • Increases social skills with those of other culutures.

Isnt’ this all amazing! I am so excited to learn what this new research proves about bilingualism! I would love to hear your experiences with children learning two languages!

Sources:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bilingual-brains

http://io9.com/5897308/immersion-in-a-foreign-language-rewires-your-brain-+-especially-when-you-take-time-off

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3739690.stm

http://www.cerebralhacks.com/brain-exercises/the-effect-of-a-second-language-on-the-brain/

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Outdoor Play is Important for the Brain!

I am guilty. I let my children play on the iPod and laptop and also watch Disney Channel. Now that our family is in Saudi Arabia, a very private country and private people, we are challenged with “what to do?” In the US, they would ride their bikes, swim and play at the park. Here in the desert, the daily temperature is 100, so going outdoors happens rarely during the day time. So, technology has come to the rescue! Deep down, though, I know that they need to be outside! I investigated how much damage that I am actually doing to them, this summer. This is what I found out…..

“Natural sunlight actually makes people happier! It stimulates the pineal gland, the part of the brain that regulates the “biological clock,” which is vital to a healthy immune system. Playing outdoors, allows children to learn through all 5 senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell). Children who spend too much time learning from the tv, computers and video games are using only two senses (hearing and sight), which can seriously affect their perceptual abilities.”

Granted, it is summer time still and school will begin in less than 2 weeks. Schools have playgrounds here, that are covered in sheltering tarps. So, I have no doubt that they will we will get the outdoor experience that our bodies crave. I always hated being outdoors in the US, but now I crave it!

So, now, I must go outside today and have some fun smelling the grass (flowers by our door entry), touching the ground (sand), tasting fresh fruit (dates here in Saudi), seeing the sunset and hearing the birds sing (pigeons). I already know that happiness will  follow!

Until then, I guess I will be a bad parent…just kidding. Some evenings, we do go for a walk at the beach. We enjoy the sunlight as we walk from the parking lot to the mall. Ok, who am I kidding. I have some improvements to do. Any suggestions? -Andrea

Sources:

http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=275

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-05062011-114155/unrestricted/Parsons_AE_T_2011.pdf