Bilingual Homes, Versatile Babies
Studies in recent years reveal that bilingual children are more successful in many aspects of life. While speaking two languages instead of one language as communication is a success in itself, new studies show that apart from being able to speak two languages, even listening and understanding at home provides very important benefits for babies.
Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) proved in their study that babies from bilingual homes can focus their attention on two different tasks at the same time.
Babies’ Perceptions were 33% Faster:
In the study, researchers observed 102 babies from bilingual homes. Two pictures were shown side by side to the babies using an eye tracking system. It was found that babies from bilingual homes switched their attention between two pictures more often than infants from monolingual homes. They also understood the differences between them much faster.
It turns out that they direct their attention to the other picture 33% faster than the non-bilinguals.
Lead author Dr Dean D’Souza, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:
“Bilingual environments may be more variable and unpredictable than monolingual environments — and therefore more challenging to learn in.
“We know that babies can easily acquire multiple languages, so we wanted to investigate how they manage it. Our research suggests that babies in bilingual homes adapt to their more complex environment by seeking out additional information.
“Scanning their surroundings faster and more frequently might help the infants in a number of ways. For example, redirecting attention from a toy to a speaker’s mouth could help infants to match ambiguous speech sounds with mouth movements.
Researchers have started to investigate whether this effect is permanent in the development period of children and whether they benefit from it in their adult life.